No true contender accounts for 30 percent of a team's win total over 40 percent of the way into a season. The Sharks may have won four in a row going into Monday's game and registered points in six straight, but have one win over a team projected to make the playoffs since Thanksgiving.
This team is expected to contend for a Stanley Cup, but looks like one simply trying to contend for a division title. The Sharks underachieve because they do not play fundamental hockey.
Sometimes they fail to do the things that make it harder on their opponents, like crowding the net and getting pucks deep. This was the case against Anaheim, when Joe Thornton got fancy with the puck high in the offensive zone. His giveaway led to a Bobby Ryan breakaway.
Statistically, the Sharks out-played the Ducks in almost every category: San Jose blocked two more shots despite the Ducks attempting 18 fewer and getting 15 fewer on net.
They are a team that reminds you for most of a game and the season of why they are projected to contend. But it is more about the timing of the Sharks mistakes and letdowns that lead to their failure.
Having five extra giveaways Monday nullified their slight advantage in the faceoff circle (25-24) and in takeaways (9-6). The hole they dug for themselves last season left them weary in the playoffs. Coupled with the letdown in the third period of Game 5 against Detroit forcing them to play two extra playoff games, they were left with too little in the tank against a faster Vancouver team.
Teams that do not play 60 minutes and commit mental errors at this time of the year do not win the Stanley Cup in the spring. It is time to accept that the shakeup that has been long called for must happen now—the first step to overcoming your bad habits is accepting you have a problem.
Here is the Sharks' 12-step program to overcoming their addiction to bad habits...