42-27-3, 87 points
36-27-10, 82 points
2nd in Eastern Conference
10th in Western Conference
Hello darkness my old friend.
It's funny. I feel like every time I'm down in the dumps about the Sharks, that weird tune from Simon and Garfunkel pops into my head. Doesn't really make too much sense because I'm pretty sure it's about the JFK assassination, but I guess you could say that the Sharks are slowly assassinating their playoff chances.
Regardless, it's a pretty depressing time to be a Sharks fan. Faced with being excluded from the playoffs for the first time in what seems like an eternity, watching San Jose play has devolved into baseless optimism followed by crushing depression. Last night's listless effort against the Kings is a prime example of what the Sharks have been doing to their fans as of late.
It's amazing that the team that put up back-to-back stinkers against Anaheim and Los Angeles is the same team that played a physical grindfest against Nashville and a dramatic heart-filled match against Detroit. But these are the Sharks that we've been dealing with all year: a squad that lacks any consistent identity.
If you still have any belief in what this team is capable of (and I do... for the record), then you haven't lost all hope yet. Even though the games in hand have evaporated, and the Sharks currently sit in 10th in the conference, it's realistic to think that a 6-3 record in their last nine can get the job done and vault the Sharks back into the playoffs. Once there, a team with this type of firepower would be an absolute headache for a top seed - think last year's Chicago squad that took Vancouver to overtime in the seventh game of the first round. The team looks much better offensively with Martin Havlat back, and Antti Niemi could get hot... he's done it before!
Can the Sharks get a top seed? It's entirely possible. But they'll have to dominate against their divisional opponents... something which they actually have a great chance to do. Doubt as you will the Sharks ability to win games, your criticism would be well placed as of late, but if San Jose can pull it together and get a streak going, wins would count as double in almost every game after tonight's.
Boston will be a tough test, as they're one of the best teams in the East (a two seed with just five more points than San Jose, go figure). But let's look ahead. After Boston, San Jose plays six of their nine remaining games against teams they are chasing in the Pacific, and one against Colorado.
Fact of the matter is, this is doable. The Sharks can right this ship yet. If you haven't run out of optimism, let's all get excited for extended playoff hockey. If we fall short, well, we can just keep talking without speaking. Keep hearing without listening. Writing songs that voices never share.
And we won't dare. Disturb the sound of silence.
Prediction: Sharks win a bajillion-0. Goals by everyone and their mother. Garfunkel pots 2.