It was only three weeks ago that the San Jose Sharks' season appeared to be dead in the water as the hope of a postseason berth slowly began to fade away.
Now, with the Sharks winning eight of their last
10 games, the team has put itself into prime position to secure a high playoff seed with a little less than three weeks left in the season.
The Sharks are currently sitting at the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference with a record of 20-11-7, netting them 47 points so far.
San Jose is just one point out of third and fourth place, as the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks are both one point ahead of them with 48 apiece.
It seemed almost impossible for the Sharks to be in this spot when March began.
After winning only three of nine games in the first half of March, the Sharks are red hot. They just had a seven-game winning streak until Sunday night’s shootout loss to the Dallas Stars.
During the seven-game winning streak, the Sharks won six games at home, before losing to Dallas to end their home stand.
10 games left in the season, the Sharks have only four games at home. They are 6-10-2 on the road, so the importance of the winning streak cannot be understated.
San Jose has put itself in a good position for a strong playoff push, and with seven points more than the Phoenix Coyotes, currently in the No. 9 spot in the conference, the Sharks have a bit of breathing room down the stretch.
The top two teams in the conference are most likely out of
reach for the Sharks, but they can earn the No. 3 seed by playing the brand of hockey that launched them back into the playoff conversation.
It’s been a streaky year for the Sharks, who have had two winning streaks of seven games, but they also had
a seven-game losing streak that nearly derailed the season in February.
The Sharks are the first team in NHL history with a pair of seven-game or more win streaks and a seven-game or more winless streak at some point between the two winning streaks, according to ESPN.
The Sharks started the season on a tear, posting seven straight victories to begin the campaign before they seemed to disappear in a span of games that put them on the bubble for a playoff appearance.
San Jose was tied for the No. 9 place in the conference with Phoenix as of March 18 before they caught fire and began rocketing back up the playoff ladder.
This streak has not only moved San Jose back into serious playoff contention, but the Sharks are also in position to overtake the Kings and Canucks.
It's hard to really point out any statistics that show why the Sharks are playing better, but the dormant offense seems to have finally resurrected itself and the team is scoring more.
The Sharks are still only averaging 2.4 goals per game, according to ESPN, but they are getting the key scores when it counts.
It also doesn't hurt that the Sharks are sixth in the league in goals allowed per game, also at 2.4 according to ESPN.
San Jose is notorious for making the playoffs; they have been a staple in postseason play in the Western Conference for over a decade: the last time they missed the playoffs was the 2002-03 season.
The Sharks have never made the Stanley Cup Finals, perhaps due to the signs we are seeing this season of streaky play, something the Sharks have seemed to struggle with since first hitting the ice more than two decades ago.
The playoffs are all about which team is hot at the end of the season, and who can play consistently enough to make it to the Finals.
With this being said, the Sharks need to improve their consistency moving into the last phase of the season, and then as they hopefully enter the playoffs.
Losing streaks can’t happen in the playoffs if you want to make the finals, and the Sharks have had their fair share of trouble with losing streaks this season.
The recent winning streak is a confidence booster for the team, which is arguably playing its best hockey of the year so far.
The true test lies within the remaining schedule and the six road games for San Jose as they wrap up regular season play.