San Jose Sharks Top 10 Best Starts to a Season
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The San Jose Sharks have started this season with a 3-3-0 record after rebounding on the road from a 1-3-0 start.
With a strong start to the season—a stated goal of Coach Todd McLellan, how does this start rank among the Sharks' all-time best?
Furthermore, what can these starts tell us about the success of the team in the regular season and beyond?
You might be surprised at the lack of hot starts in Sharks history, and then what happens what they do start hot.
Honorable Mention: 1992-1993; a Record-Setting Season
Doug Wilson Captained the Sharks to the most Losses in a Season
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In the Sharks' second season, they went 2-9-0 in the first month of the season.
That would be terrible except that the Sharks didn't win a single game in the month of January.
In fact, two wins was the most wins of any month of the season except for November, when the Sharks mustered three wins.
These five wins in the first two months look stellar considering the Sharks ended up with only 11 wins on the season, setting a single-season record for losses at 71, which still stands today.
The Sharks' eventual 11-71-2 record also puts them in the record book for least ties in a season with only two, giving this start to the season a well-deserved honorable mention.
No. 10: 1996-97; Sharks' First .500 Start
Ex-Sharks GM Dean Lombardi is now Responsible for the Los Angeles Kings' Resurgence
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The Sharks' October record of 5-5-3 (13 points) ranks No. 10 on this list as all others are below .500.
The Sharks failed to make the playoffs in this season and selected draft bust Andrei Zyuzin No. 2 overall.
Sad to think that this terrible season had one of the 10 best starts in Sharks history.
No. 9: 2011-12; This Year!
The Sharks have pulled to 3-3 to open the season with four games in hand to move up the list.
After a painfully slow 1-3 start, the team's heroics on the road have pulled the Sharks to .500 with road wins on two consecutive nights.
Again, this .500 records gets them on this list.
Check out, Goal Setting for a Hot Start, before moving on to see how the Sharks can make this start a memorable one.
No. 8: 2007-08; Ron Wilson's Last
The Sharks' mediocre start of 6-5-1 led to one of the more heartbreaking endings of the season.
The 2007-08 season saw the Sharks hit a win streak of 18-0-2 after acquiring Brian Campbell at the trade deadline.
Still, after winning a seven-game series against the hard-hitting Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs, the Sharks were ousted by the Dallas Stars in six games after winning a four-overtime game in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Brian Campbell and Ron Wilson left after the season, making room for a well-known assistant coach who won the cup in Detroit, and current Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.
No. 7: 2005-06; Sharks Collect Some Hardware
The Sharks' October left them at 6-5-1, which is the same record as No. 8 on this list.
This start gets the nod over the 2007-08 start however because the Sharks were without Joe Thornton.
That is until late November came around.
Sharks fans will forever remember Nov. 30, 2005, as the day Joe Thornton came to town.
The trade paid immediate dividends as Jumbo Joe's play earned him the NHL's Hart Memorial Trophy as Most Valuable Player and the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer with 125 points.
In addition, Joe Thornton gift wrapped a Rocket Richard trophy for line-mate Jonathan Cheechoo whose 56 goals led the NHL.
Disappointingly, the Sharks let a 2-0 playoff series lead evaporate and lost to the Edmonton Oilers to end the season short of their goal once again.
No. 6: 2001-02; Sharks' First Division Title
Sixth Round Draft Pick Ryan Clowe
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The Sharks went 5-3-3-1 (14 points) to begin a season in which Evgeni Nabokov would dominate.
The sophomore, coming off a Calder Cup-winning campaign the year before, led the Sharks to their first Pacific Division title.
Alas, the Sharks were ousted by Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche in another heartbreaking seven-game series.
Part of the upside to this year however was that the Sharks drafted Ryane Clowe in the 6th round.
No. 5: 2000-01; Signs of Starting Strength
The Sharks' October was the first truly good one on this list at 6-2-1 with 13 points.
This start led to the Sharks first winning season in franchise history.
This was Evgeni Nabokov's Calder Cup-winning year as rookie of the year, and he came into the league with a dominating style.
Facing a St. Louis Blues team in the playoffs that the Sharks eliminated the year before, the Blues got their revenge by beating the Sharks in the first round.
No. 4: 2009-10; Hello Heatley
The Sharks began the season with superstar Dany Heatley in the lineup for the first time.
The move paid immediate dividends as the Sharks got off to a 9-4-1 start (19 points) en route to their second straight Western Conference regular-season winner as the No. 1 seed.
After beating Colorado and then Detroit, the Sharks were swept out of the Conference finals by eventual Stanley Cup winner Chicago Blackhawks.
Even though many consider this season a disappointment, the fast start contributed to an eventual appearance in the Conference finals.
No. 3: 1999-2000; Owen Nolan, 'Nuff Said
The Sharks had a ferocious start to this season at 7-2-0 before cooling off to a 9-5-1 October record.
Part of this start included four straight wins on an East Coast road trip early in the season.
That's exactly what the Sharks are in the middle of now, and this franchise has shown that a fast start to the season can be had on the road back East.
This led Owen Nolan's Sharks to a first-round playoff match-up against the President Trophy-winning (best record in the regular season) St. Louis Blues.
After going up 3-1 in the series, the Sharks would win Game 7 in St. Louis on a goal from center ice.
The Sharks would be ousted in the next round against the Dallas Stars with Captain Owen Nolan injured.
No. 2: 2006-2007; Joe Thornton's First Full Season
The Sharks started this season with a 9-4-0 October record and followed it up with an even better 10-3-0 November.
The fast start was led by Joe Thornton, who saw October action for the first time with the Sharks.
Thornton led the league in assists with 92. However, a couple of trade deadline deals for Craig Rivet and Bill Guerin didn't have the impact needed to get the Sharks past the second round of the playoffs, falling to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Sharks did call up four rookies that season though—Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Carle (who was traded for Dan Boyle), Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski.
No. 1: 2008-09; Sharks Win the President's Trophy
Highlights of the First 20 Games
It's no surprise that the Sharks' best start to a season resulted in the team's only President's Trophy for best regular-season team record in the NHL.
Starting the season with an October record of 9-2-0, the Sharks followed that up with a November record of 11-1-1 and a December record of 8-1-4.
That's 28 wins in 37 games and 61 points out of a possible 74 points. That put the Sharks on pace to a 135-point season, which would have beaten the all-time record by 3 points.
Alas, the Sharks garnered only 117 points, which was enough to get first-year coach Todd McLellan the President's Trophy.
Still, the Sharks lost in the first round to the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks, a loss the Sharks still look to avenge.
Where Can This Season Land?
Last Game was a Victory over the Defending Stanley Cup Winner
It's no coincidence that the Sharks' best start to the season landed them the President's Trophy for best record in the NHL.
That being said, from this list we've seen how the Sharks have lost in the first round as the President's Trophy winner versus the Ducks and also beat out a President's Trophy winner in the St. Louis Blues.
So while having the best regular season doesn't guarantee post-season success, I've yet to hear an argument showing that a top-notch regular season is a detriment to playoff success.
Right now, the Sharks sit at 3-3-0 with four games left in the month of October, all of which are on the road.
If the Sharks win out, that will put them at 7-3-0 with 14 points, hitting our pre-season goals for the first month.
Currently at No. 9, this would put them anywhere from No. 3 to No. 5 on this list with the current No. 5 dropping down and pushing everything down thereafter.
That's a pretty big 'if' at this point though, and after starting 1-3, maintaining any spot on this list will be beneficial to the long-term success of the season.