The San Jose Sharks went into the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs as just the sixth seed in the Western Conference. No postseason team had fewer regulation and overtime wins, and there is no shootout in May.
Before too much is made of winning a game on the road against a division winner, we must remember that happened in 2012. They proceeded to lose the next four in which they were more or less dominated by a younger, hungrier St. Louis Blues team.
It was a fitting end to a disappointing season that saw the four-time Pacific Division winners coming off consecutive conference final appearances barely get into the playoffs. It was a season that involved three 15-game hot streaks surrounded by some of the worst play in the NHL.
How much better is this team? Just as last season, they only clinched a Stanley Cup playoff berth with two games to go, albeit in less than 60 percent of a season. On the heels of two seven-game winning streaks surrounded mostly by poor play, they only finished one seed higher.
Despite all of that, they have five reasons to be confident they can go on a deep playoff run this year.