For the second straight season, the San Jose Sharks started the NHL season without a loss in regulation through eight games. On Monday, San Jose defeated the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout to take the streak to nine games, but a last-second loss Thursday to the Boston Bruins lands the Sharks at 8-1-1.
What do we make of this hot start, though?
The 2013 Sharks’ hot start to the lockout-shortened season resulted in a sixth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and an eventual loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the Conference Semifinals.
While the same result is clearly still in the cards for the 2013-14 Sharks, judging by the team’s rich history in not meeting expectations come playoff time, this year’s squad has a different offensive mentality and strategy on the ice. It is evident by the 38.8 shots per game and 4.33 goals per game—both NHL-leading.
There will always be doubters of the Sharks, and rightfully so, but San Jose has been far and away the best team on the ice in the early NHL season. They have done it without contributions from the injured Dan Boyle and Raffi Torres, as well as starting a 19-year-old on the first line and a 20-year-old without significant AHL experience.
The long 82-game season will clearly be a test, but the Sharks’ relentless offense and stubborn defense, all without the help of several key players, hints at this hot start becoming quite sustainable.