3 Sharks Players Who Need To Step Up In NHL Playoffs

The San Jose Sharks are looking to rebound after missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in a decade last year. Under new head coach Pete DeBoer, the team has had an up-and-down season marred by struggles at home. Though they have struggled in recent weeks, they have managed to lock up a postseason berth, and will head into Round 1 hoping to shake the ghosts of playoff past that saw them take early exits after a ton of regular-season success. 

Here are three players that need to step up if the Sharks want to contend for the Stanley Cup. 

G Martin Jones
Playoff series between evenly matched opponents often come down to goaltending, so Jones will have to be at his best for the Sharks to compete with battle-tested opponents like the L.A. Kings (their projected first-round matchup). In his first year as a starter, Jones (36-22-4, 2.26 GA) has been a consistent backstop for the Sharks, but it appears coach DeBoer isn't ready to make a firm commitment to the 26-year-old just yet with backup James Reimer on a hot streak.  

C Patrick Marleau
Unlike fellow Sharks great Joe Thornton, Marleau has not been able to fight off Father Time in the twilight of his career. For the second-straight year, he boasts a team-worst plus/minus (-22), and has only 44 points in 79 games this season. If San Jose hopes to improve its attack and move past the first round, Marleau will need to lead his teammates on the third line and play closer to his pay grade ($6.67 million per season). 

D Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Vlasic remains on schedule to return to the Sharks in time for the playoffs, and when the defenseman finally comes back, he will need to contribute immediately. San Jose has gone just 5-4 since Vlasic went down with a lower body injury, and while youngster Dylan DeMelo has done a decent job filling in for him, it's clear that the team's defensive unit takes a step back without the longtime Shark in the lineup. 

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Related Topics: Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Pete DeBoer, Sharks News, NHL News, Martin Jones, NHL Playoffs