The Sharks let one slip through their fingers in spectacular fashion last night. However, in picking up one point, the Sharks keep their point steak alive at 9 games. Depending on your personal preferences, you can look at this game in a couple different ways. So without further ado, it's time to choose your own adventure! If you like what you're seeing with the Sharks, continue on to "State of the Sharks #1." If you're not feeling quite as optimistic, go ahead and jump down to "State of the Sharks #2." Happy adventuring!
State of the Sharks #1:
That was a really awesome game last night. Despite getting punched in the mouth early, the Sharks were able to withstand a furious start from the Kings. Bend don't break. After the Sharks had gained their skating legs, it quickly turned into one of the furious games we're used to seeing between these two teams. Despite entering the game 8 points off the division lead, the Sharks showed that they can play with the Pacific's best. Instead of merely just hanging around, San Jose was, at many times, clearly the better team on the ice.
In the end, careless penalties and defensive breakdowns reared their ugly heads again and left the Sharks disappointed in overtime. But if there is such a thing as an encouraging last-second loss to your arch rival, this is certainly one of them. There were a lot of really great things to be excited about in this game. I can't remember a recent time the Sharks had substantial depth down the middle, but when Logan Couture is centering your 3rd line that has to mean you're in good shape.
Combine that with the recently stellar play of youngsters Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi and you've got a team to watch out for. It's no secret that Tomas has had his struggles in his young career, but moving him up to the top line with two of the greatest Sharks players ever has certainly shown some promise. And what more can you say about Joonas Donskoi? Should he have potted that 3-on-1 goal? Absolutely, but he's been the surprise that everyone asked for but no one expected this season. Granted he's only played half a season in the big league, but it would appear his ceiling is high.
Moving forward, it's perfectly reasonable to expect great things from the Sharks the rest of this season. While there are still many issues to iron out, it's clear this team isn't going away quietly. They can still challenge the Kings for a Pacific Division title.
State of the Sharks #2:
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Sharks are leading against their arch rival, but end up losing in the waning seconds of a critical divisional game. There are many Sharks fans out there that share this same sentiment of disappointment, but here's why losing in OT last night could have actually been a good thing (WARNING: You're about to enter the Spin Zone).
I know everyone wants to win, but what if locking up a Pacific Division title isn't in the best interest of the Sharks? If anything in life is certain, it's death, taxes, and the Central locking up both Wild Cards this season. I don't know about you, but I don't want any part of the Central in the playoffs. Should the Sharks go on a fantastic run and claim the Pacific, they could potentially earn themselves a first round matchup with Minnesota or Nashville (or if things get really weird, St. Louis). I'd feel much better sitting back in second place and welcoming the Coyotes or Canucks to SAP Center come playoff time. Given the Sharks road record, forfeiting home-ice advantage in 3rd place might not even be a bad thing.
That's why what the Sharks did last night was brilliant: get a point to distance yourself a little from the chasing pack, but let LA sit up top and get knocked out by the Central Wild Card in the first round. It's genius, if you ask me. So even though the Sharks aren't winning as much as you'd like, they're actually in the perfect spot. Don't worry about the Kings. We've got 'em right where we want them. Hope you're not dizzy from all that spinning.