by PuckStopsHere on 11/22/09 at 01:30 PM ET
The San Jose Sharks leading the NHL in the regular season is not a new story. They finished first overall in the league last season. In the past, the story has had a downside where San Jose has not been able to make a significant playoff run. This year’s San Jose team looks to be the best one so far. They are first in the NHL standings by a significant margin (they have a five point lead over Washington). They are on pace to collect more points than they have ever had in a regular season in their history. Three of the top five scorers in the NHL are San Jose Sharks (Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau). They have one of the top scoring defencemen in Dan Boyle and one of the top goalies in Evgeni Nabokov. This looks like the team to beat in the NHL.
Of course, it is November. There are months to go before playoff time. Sometimes good teams peak before Christmas and do not wind up as major players in the Stanley Cup playoffs. There is widespread concern that San Jose might do so this year and that concern is increased due to past playoff failures.
When the Sharks lost in the first last year to the Anaheim Ducks, there was widespread call for change. Some change happened. The most significant move was trading for Dany Heatley, who has been a significant contributor for the team so far. For some that change was not enough. They wanted to see the Sharks completely torn apart. They wanted to see stars Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau moved. For a large part, these opinions were offbase. Joe Thornton has been San Jose’s top scorer in the playoffs for the last three years running - and yet people openly claim he never shows up in the playoffs. It seems that they are trying to place the blame for playoff losses on one high profile player, even though he has been arguably the most successful Shark in the playoffs.
San Jose is off to a very good start so far this season. They are on pace to have their best regular season ever. Even if they complete that task, the real story is how well they do in the playoffs. I would guess they have a very good chance at finally achieving their playoff success this summer, but if they don’t that could be as big a story as the Stanley Cup victory of whichever team succeeds this year.
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