Losing sucks, as it turns out, but for some Sharks fans it seems like a cathartic experience. Any loss to any team is the back-breaker, the one that proved the Sharks will lose in the first round in embarrassing fashion. You know, because that's what the Sharks do.
Some emotional scarring is understandable, of course, but I worry for fans who hang by a thread after every loss. San Jose lost to Arizona last night in large part because of bad luck. It's hockey. Some nights the bounces don't go your way and Thursday is a pretty prime example of that for the Sharks.
One particularly silly line of reasoning is that losing to a non-playoff team is indicitaive of the Sharks' inability to get it done. The notion that losing to a team like the Coyotes, for any reason, is just not something that playoff teams do. Well, lest we allow that to hang in the air forever, let's take a look at who the Coyotes have beaten this season. This is sorted alphabetically.
For context, the Coyotes have beaten the Sharks one (1) time in three tries and it came thanks to a weird goal late and a pair of disallowed goals for San Jose. Meanwhile, these same Desert Dogs have beaten the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks a combined six freaking times. Both of those teams, last I checked, are ahead of the Sharks in the standings and are in fact playoff bound.
Admittedly this isn't really the point. Sometimes the better team loses in hockey, and judging a team solely on wins and losses is reductive and narrow-sighted. The Sharks have been the beneficiaries of games where they were outplayed and picked up two points and then there's last night.
What's encouraging is the way the Sharks fought throughout the entirety of the contest. Despite having two goals wiped off the board San Jose kept coming with wave after wave of attack — that's a nice attribute, right? That "grit" or "will to win" is the kind of thing old-school analysts rave about. The Sharks seem to have that while also generally outplaying their opponent.
There's something to be said for the slow start to the game, of course. The Sharks seem to struggle to adjust to teams that clog up the blue line to deny zone entries at first, but eventually they found their legs and started to press. San Jose had the better of the chances overall and looked more likely to score in the third period.
The loss combined with the Kings' win makes things difficult for the Sharks to win the division. So it is. With Anaheim as the likely opponent in the first round, the chief concern for the Sharks is the health of Marc-Edouard Vlasic; without him, yeah, it's probably time to panic.