By now, we all know the San Jose Sharks' playoff history—the upsets, the early exits, the disappearances of key players and the reputation as chokers.
But, once again we approach the playoffs asking if this will finally be the year that the Sharks live up to their playoff potential.
There are a few key difference between this edition of the Sharks and the past versions that have fallen apart, namely Antti Niemi, Logan Couture and regular season struggles.
In Niemi the Sharks finally have a proven winner between the pipes. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, the Hawks chose not to resign the Finnish goalie and Niemi came to San Jose.
After a rocky start, Niemi has found his groove and has been a huge contributor to the Sharks' recent 17-3-1 run.
In Logan Couture the Sharks have a clutch rookie. Couture has already set a new rookie record for game-winning goals and is a Calder Trophy candidate.
Finally, the Sharks have had to overcome adversity during the regular season. The Sharks have been in the top two in the league each of the last three years and haven't faced many or any struggles until the postseason.
By facing challenges during the regular season, the Sharks have come together as a stronger team and are playing some of the best hockey we've ever seen from them.
All of these factors could help the Sharks finally get over the hump, but of course they could flame out yet again.
Here's a look at the scariest matchups the Sharks could face in the playoffs.
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