Watching the Sharks' Joe Pavelski score a goal with just under two minutes to play in a crucial Pacific Division battle with the Dallas Stars Thursday night was as hyped as this team has been in just over a month. However, when it rains it sure does pour on this team that is clearly in a mental and physical rut.
Moments later, the Stars responded with a game-tying goal, as has been per usual as of late for Dallas, and coincidentally per usual for the Sharks, as well.
Again, the Sharks had an opportunity to strike on a power play late in overtime, yet could muster nothing despite several great opportunities in front of the Dallas net.
Low and behold, the game went to a shootout, and it was then that we all knew what was coming next.
What were the odds a team with a lackluster mental game was going to pull out a win in a shootout on the road against one of the hottest teams in the NHL?
It did not matter at that point. We all knew the loss was coming sooner or later for this team on Thursday night.
The Stars added to their Pacific Division lead, which is now a four games, and the Sharks continue to cling to the seventh or eighth spots in the Western Conference.
Sharks getting some help tonight from MN Wild beating Phx & Columbus beats LA Kings! Going to be a great finish in the West!— Bret Hedican (@BretHedican) March 9, 2012
It is simply the way things are going for this San Jose team. When things seem to go right, they tend to go wrong quickly. It has become the norm these days.
But the Sharks did not play bad on Thursday, and that is the point of this whole ordeal. They outshot a screaming hot team 48-35 on their opponent's home ice in the middle of a road-trip that has no choice but to come out a success.
Finally, we saw some significance from the Sharks, finally we saw some urgency and finally we saw some hard-nosed hockey. It was the best game the Sharks have played since their Feb. 28 game against the Philadelphia Flyers, and i cannot remember when the best game before that occurred, and for good reason. The important part is that the game against the Stars on Thursday night -- the best game they have played in recent memory -- still ended in a loss and a drop in the point standings in the Pacific Division.
Has panic set in for this team yet?
Better yet, where do we consider rock bottom to be?
No, the Sharks are not at rock bottom. However, when a team has a handle on the division at the mid-season point, then proceeds to drop several games in a row while the rest of their division starts playing aggressive and competitive hockey, it might be just about time.
San Jose is a playoff hockey team, and despite these losses that seem to be inevitable to some extent, we can expect the Sharks to be playing in the Western Conference playoffs at one of the eight seeds, no matter how unlikely that seems to be these days.
But rock bottom is not far off, which shows you just how far this team has collapsed since they embarked on that miserable nine-game road-trip in mid-February.
Changing the momentum of this season starts with defeating their own division, and there are a lot of chances for that coming down the stretch of this season.