Sharks could win Cup this year

Despite previous playoff failures, Sharks have a good chance to win it all

Updated: March 23, 2011, 2:46 PM ET
By Craig Button | Special to ESPN Insider
Patrick Marleau Jeanine Leech/Icon SMIThis could be the year that Patrick Marleau and the Sharks redeem their past playoff defeats.

The saying that "starting well is important but finishing well is more important" could certainly apply to the San Jose Sharks. Despite many great starts in the regular season -- and in the playoffs -- it has always finished the same for the Sharks: in disappointment.

An 82-game season is just the appetizer course for what always seems to be a main dish served cold. San Jose has performed in the regular season at heights that puts it in the favorite's category for the Stanley Cup year after year. During the five seasons since the lockout, only the Detroit Red Wings have won more games (257) than the Sharks' 248. They have had leaders in scoring and goaltending, been at the top of the league standings and have had individuals win major awards.

Will this year be any different? Can they end the agony of defeat at what is considered the most important time of the year? Or will it be more of the same?

Craig Button contributes regularly to ESPN Insider. Since 1988, Button has worked in the NHL as a scout and later as director of scouting with the Minnesota North Stars, becoming director of player personnel after the franchise relocated to Dallas. He later served as vice president and general manager of the Calgary Flames. He currently works as an analyst for the NHL Network.