Obviously the Sharks are not where they would like to be. Whatever is thought about the talent level outside of San Jose, this team was built to win a Stanley Cup and is probably facing their final chance to achieve that goal.
Officially, they go into Monday, March 11, as the seventh seed in the official NHL Western Conference standings—right where they finished 2011-12. But last season they went into the final 24 hours of the season in the running for the Pacific Division title.
This season, they are over five games back of the Anaheim Ducks and would not own the tiebreak. Their only chance they have would be to win all three games with at least one in regulation. That would close the gap to a manageable three games over the remaining 21 and give the Sharks the tiebreak.
Meanwhile, they are only 2.5 games ahead of the last-place Calgary Flames and one game from being on the outside of the playoff picture.
Then again, they are actually a half-game ahead of the fourth-seeded Detroit Red Wings. This illustrates how much this team is still in contention, how tightly bunched most of the Western Conference is and how ridiculous the system for determining standings is in the NHL.
This is not on the coaches. The addition of Larry Robinson makes this a really solid staff with a successful history, and they have been focusing their attention in the right places.
Remember many of the same players failed Ron Wilson. Coaches cannot play the game for the players (with a notable exception in 2013), so it is the players that should be graded.
As a whole right now the Sharks would be an unlikely contender, but they might be one player away. They certainly are no shakier than the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings were at this time last season.
Collectively, they can earn no more than a B- because their record (point percentage being the real measure) is better than just nine teams in the Western Conference and 17 teams in the NHL overall. Here is a look at how each unit contributes, with the individual players highlighted...
MJ Kasprzak is a featured columnist and the original community leader for the Green Bay Packers (for whom MJ is a shareholder) and San Jose Sharks, and covers them and Bay Area Christian issues professionally for Examiner.com.