With More Western Conference finals appearances in the last two seasons than wins (1) in that particular round of the playoffs, knocking on the door just isn’t good enough for the San Jose Sharks anymore.

Saturday night in San Jose, the Sharks will kick off their 21st NHL season against the Phoenix Coyotes. Expectations always run high, but Sharks general manager Doug Wilson doubled down this offseason with some major changes in response to a demanding fan base.

Where the team truly made strides was on the blue line. For the last three seasons, the Sharks’ Achilles’ heel has been their defensive depth. San Jose addressed the issue by acquiring smooth-skating Brent Burns, hard-nosed defenseman Colin White and veteran Jim Vandermeer.

Burns scored 17 goals last season for the Minnesota Wild, and he will give the Sharks another legitimate No. 1 defenseman to go along with the equally imposing Dan Boyle. With the physicality of Douglas Murray, burgeoning stardom of Jason Demers and consistency of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the Sharks should have one of the best defensive units in the NHL.

But while coach Todd McLellan will look for some more goal scoring from the blue line this year, this team knows where its bread is buttered. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have been the Sharks’ offensive leaders for years, and they will continue in those roles this season.

Thornton and Marleau both saw time with Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi last campaign, but the latter two were shipped to Minnesota this offseason. Playoff hero Joe Pavelski will have the opportunity to step into an even more prominent role with the team, giving the Sharks a powerful first line just waiting for a nickname—Thormarpav? Marthornski? Um, we’ll get back to you.

The second line has a chance to be just as dynamic as the first, with Rookie of the Year runner-up Logan Couture teaming with wings Martin Havlat and Ryane Clowe. Havlat, who has been plagued with the injury bug throughout his career, was acquired from Minnesota in a trade for Heatley this summer. It remains to be seen how he will fit in with the club, but his playmaking skills and excellent speed should help complement Clowe and Couture.

Antti Niemi will be the primary fixture in net again for the Sharks, with Thomas Greiss in a backup role. Niemi’s play down the stretch was a large reason the Sharks finished so strong, but his play in the postseason left a little to be desired. A four-year contract extension worth $15.2 million kicks in this year, meaning the pressure will fall on Niemi to become more consistent.

The biggest question for the Sharks isn’t whether they’re good enough to compete for a championship—they definitely are. The issue is whether or not the team can find the consistency to set itself up for another deep playoff run, and finally capture the Stanley Cup.

Read more on the Sharks at the blog Fear the Fin.