The 2011 Stanley Cup Champion San Jose Sharks suffered a predictable letdown Wednesday night in Southern California against the arch-rival Anaheim Ducks. To be sure, plenty of prognosticators will take this opportunity to immediately cue the chorus of "Here we go again"s—while slamming forcibly down on the proverbial panic button with both hands.
Surely this fundamental breakdown is proof positive of every Sharks fan's worst fears. On the surface, they may seem like a team reborn and destined for a great post season, but ultimately, they are just as susceptible as ever to embarrassing and demoralizing losses (we all remember 2008).
True, the Sharks had less to play for than any night in recent weeks, having already clinched both a playoff spot and the Pacific Division crown, but a win would still have been significant. It would have given them the season series win over their arch-rivals and a potential first-round playoff opponent. It would have tied Todd McLellan with Mike Keenan as the winningest coach in the first three seasons of an NHL career.
Coupled with a Detroit Red Wings loss, a win also would have nearly secured the No. 2 seed for San Jose in the playoffs. Not only did the Sharks fail to take advantage of these opportunities, they failed miserably.
The Sharks allowed six goals, lost by four, went a miserable 2-6 on the penalty kill and surrendered a hat trick and the 50th goal of the season to NHL scoring leader Corey Perry. Just the same old Sharks, right?
As my daddy always said (bet you can't guess what his name is), "If you're gonna lose, you might as well lose big."
Nearly always, that proves to be true. The Sharks suffered a horrible 7-2 loss with a chance to sweep the Red Wings in the second round of the playoffs last year, only to rebound in Game 5 with one of their finest playoff performances ever.
If you are willing to put the inherent negativity and pessimism that seems to proliferate the Sharks fanbase aside, you will find there are various reasons to be encouraged by the overall happenings of Wednesday night. I cannot claim that the loss was preferable to a win (who wants to lose to the Ducks?), but it was far from a total write-off.
Here is why: