The NHL playoffs are just around the corner, and while the NHL is full of teams with plenty of storylines, none have quite been as closely watched as the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks have won nine consecutive regular season games, but it’s hard to imagine them getting past the first round.
The team’s postseason hopes are also going to hinge on whether they can hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning for a wild-card spot.
That said, the Sharks’ playoff hopes are much brighter than they might have been a few months ago.
The Kings were eliminated in the first-round, and with a new coach in LA, the team may not be able to put the past behind them.
But with that being said, if the Sharks can beat the Lightning and the Kings in the second round, the Kings’ playoff chances will skyrocket.
The San Jose Mercury News’ Adam Kilgore breaks down the top five storylines of the Sharks season.1.
Will San Jose win the Stanley Cups?
The Sharks were one of the most entertaining teams in the NHL during the regular season, and they’re unlikely to fall short of their second straight Stanley Cup championship.
They were also one of two teams that actually won the regular-season series against the New York Rangers, which means they could have a good shot at the championship.
San Jose has already qualified for the postseason, and if the team makes it past the second-round and finishes in first place, the San Francisco 49ers will have to come to San Jose for Game 6 on March 6.2.
Who is the best player in the Sharks lineup?
The biggest surprise of the year for the Sharks was their star power.
Ryan Smyth has been a star for them all year, and he was on fire in Game 1.
He scored four goals and five assists in six games and was a force against the Rangers.
Smyth’s game was on display against the Kings, as he had nine points in eight games.
The fact that Smyth scored five goals and six assists in five playoff games is a testament to the player he is, and it shows just how good he is.
The question is whether he can continue to produce at this level for the rest of the season, which is what it is expected of him after the Sharks took him second overall in the 2017 NHL Draft.3.
Who will win the Western Conference title?
The Kings, who finished tied for the second seed in the West with the San Diego Padres, are the favorites to win the division.
The last time the Kings were in the conference finals, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Antonio Spurs in seven games.
This year, they’ll have a chance to end the Kings dynasty once and for all, as the Sharks are the only team that has the ability to beat the Kings on home ice.
The biggest question is if the Kings can stop San Jose from dominating the postseason.4.
How will the Sharks use their young core?
The NHL has been trying to find a way to give young players a break.
The New York Islanders have been trying that approach, and the New Jersey Devils have experimented with this as well.
They are all hoping to find some creative ways to use young players and how they can be more impactful.
But the Sharks have a clear plan for how they’ll use young talent and have already made some big changes this season.
The top-line center Dylan Strome has been an all-star this year, which shows that he can play in the top six of any lineup.
He is also a physical player that can score, and will be able give the Sharks another edge in the postseason if he can be effective.5.
Can the Sharks overcome the injuries?
The injuries to the Sharks top-six forward and left wing were not a huge surprise.
There have been questions about whether either player would be able be a factor in the playoffs, but the team has found a way.
Joe Thornton will likely start the series against Strome, and Justin Braun is back to being one of San Jose’s best players.
Braun had his best postseason, scoring seven goals and seven assists in 15 games.
It’s possible that Braun will be a difference maker in Game 6, but with all the injuries, the most likely outcome is the Sharks will come away with a victory.6.
Will Joe Thornton play in Game 7?
Thornton will be playing for his sixth Stanley Cup with the Sharks.
He won the Stanley Championships with the Rangers in 2011, and has been the Sharks captain for six of his nine seasons in the league.
His team has won five Stanley Cups, but he has never won a Game 7 against the Sharks in his career.
The goalies are also expected to play well.
Joe Benning is the only goalie who has ever won a Stanley Cup, and his team will likely play without his top backup, Joe Cannata, because of injuries.
The goalie situation