So we know the San Jose Sharks have at least a little fire left in them. A gritty and determined win against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference will do that to a team, though, as the Sharks beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Thursday night at the HP Pavilion.
But as we look to the rest of the games this season, there is a clear idea that the Sharks must win, and win when it matters.
There are eight games left in the NHL season and every game seems to be that much more important to the Sharks, who are in dire need of a break down the stretch to ease their way in the Western Conference playoffs.
Put them in any order you want to, but including the Sharks, the six teams are separated by three points and are battling for three spots with eight games remaining.
For better or worse, the Sharks control their own destiny the rest of the season.
With seven of the eight remaining games against the Pacific Division and one against the playoff-contending Avalanche, the Sharks hold their playoff hopes on their shoulders in a desperate attempt to make this season somewhat of a success.
However, desperation is exactly what the rest of this season will entail. We finally saw a sense of that against the Bruins on Thursday night. The urgency, the grit and determination were all there, and it was like the season finally clicked for this team that needed to be in desperation mode about three weeks ago.
The defense and hustle was great, the goaltending was what we expect from Antti Niemi in big games and the offense was getting shots to the net against a superb Boston defense. It felt like the beginning of the season again, or last season at this time. Whatever it felt like is how we should feel about this team because they are built to succeed this time of year. It simply has not clicked this season.
One of the reasons for the sudden burst in productivity on the ice is Martin Havlat, who returned from injury and has provided speed and offense to a team in desperate need of a pick-me-up. It is because of him that the Sharks are still in a good position to make the playoffs.
How? I do not know.
This team has played so poorly over the last few weeks that they should not even have a chance to salvage their season, yet we see them in a late-season playoff push for the first time in what seems like forever.
The win against Boston came in a big game with playoff-type pressure. If the Sharks can apply that type of productivity against their Pacific Division foes in these final eight games, we should be seeing them slide into the playoffs. But if this was simply the usual flash in the pan that we have become so accustomed to over the past couple months, terrible things are bound to happen to this franchise at the conclusion of this season.
For now, they control their own destiny in these final two weeks.
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