This season’s San Jose Sharks have become the toughest sons of bitches to take to the ice in teal in hockey history. Now that the playoffs have arrived, with the Los Angeles Kings coming to town Thursday, it’s time to maintain that blood-in-the-water mentality.

Hopes are high, and reasonably so, that this might finally be the Year of the Shark, when the boys representing the Valley of the Heart’s Delight stop leaving fans heartsick and follow through by putting every opposing player and puck into the back of the net, all the way until Lord Stanley’s Cup is paraded from HP Pavilion to San Pedro Square.

A quick glance at the Sharks’ roster leaves one with the feeling that this cast of characters should be remembered well beyond this season: Douglas Murray, Jamal Mayers and Ben Eager make up a goon squad we hereby declare should be respectfully known as the Three Stooges; Logan Couture, the slick-sticked rookie, is their D’Artagnan; Joe Thornton, a gentle giant for more years than we can remember, has become a Little John unafraid to mix it up; Antti Niemi is Finnish (not that that matters, but he’s a hell of a lot better than that guy we had in goal last year); and Ryane Clowe has returned from injury in the nick of time to lead by example as the baddest badass in a gang of badassery.

Clowe is so cool the Most Interesting Man in the World asks for his autograph. Even better, Clowe says, “No.”

And yet, the fate of the Sharks will likely rest with the team’s one constant over the last decade: Patrick “Patty Boy” Marleau. If, for the love of God, Marleau actually gets angry and plays with a chip on his shoulder, the Sharks should not only breeze through the first round but find themselves on the brink of greatness.

No team has played better over the second half of the season, and boasting a squad with the biggest NHL average for player size, it might finally be time that the hype lived up to the hope.