San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks, a professional ice hockey team based in San Jose, California, have had their fair share of ups and downs in the past few seasons. With a loyal and passionate fan base, the Sharks have always been a team to watch out for in the National Hockey League (NHL). But in recent years, they have faced a tale of two seasons – with a strong regular season followed by a disappointing playoff performance.
For the uninitiated, the NHL regular season runs from October to April, followed by the playoffs in the months of April, May, and June. The Sharks have been consistent contenders in the regular season, often finishing near the top of their division. However, their performance in the playoffs, where they compete against the best teams in the league, has been a cause for concern among fans and experts alike.
In the 2018-2019 season, the Sharks had one of their best regular seasons in history, finishing second in the Pacific Division and third overall in the Western Conference. Led by talented players like captain Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, and Logan Couture, the team looked poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. But their postseason journey was cut short in the first round, as they were eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights in a hard-fought seven-game series.
This was a familiar pattern for the Sharks, as they have made the playoffs in 21 out of their 28 seasons in the league. Yet, they have never been able to lift the coveted Stanley Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the NHL playoffs. This begs the question – what is it that prevents the Sharks from achieving postseason success?
Some experts attribute it to bad luck, while others believe it is a lack of mental toughness. Former Sharks coach Peter DeBoer once said, The difference between winning and losing in the playoffs is very small. And for the Sharks, that difference seems to be in their mentality.
In the 2019-2020 season, the Sharks faced a significant setback when they parted ways with longtime captain Joe Pavelski and many other veteran players. This resulted in a younger and less experienced team taking the ice for the Sharks. However, they still had star players like Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl to lead the charge.
The regular season did not go as per plan, as the Sharks finished last in their division and second-last in the conference. For the first time in 14 years, the Sharks missed qualifying for the playoffs. It was a tough pill to swallow for fans, who had high hopes for the team at the start of the season.
But the regular season was nothing compared to the challenges that lay ahead for the Sharks. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, the NHL had to suspend the remainder of the regular season and postpone the playoffs. It was a tough situation for everyone, including the Sharks, who were left wondering what could have been.
As the world slowly started to recover from the pandemic, the NHL announced its plan to restart the season, with the playoff format being tweaked to accommodate the unusual circumstances. The Sharks, who were not eligible to participate, were given a long break before the start of the 2020-2021 season, which was delayed to January 2021.
This extended break gave the Sharks an opportunity to heal and regroup. With a new coach in Bob Boughner and a refreshed mindset, the Sharks looked to turn their fortunes around in the upcoming season. However, many questions loomed about their ability to compete in a highly competitive Western Division, which includes powerhouse teams like the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche.
As the 2020-2021 season progressed, it became clear that the Sharks were not the same team they were in the previous few seasons. Injuries and COVID-19 protocol absences plagued the team, leading to a difficult start to the season. Despite this, the Sharks managed to pick up their pace and finish with a respectable record, earning a spot in the playoffs.
But once again, their postseason journey came to an end in the first round, as they were swept by the Golden Knights in four games. With another early exit from the playoffs, questions about the Sharks’ ability to perform under pressure and their lack of mental toughness resurfaced.
It is evident that the Sharks have the talent and potential to be a championship team. But until they can find a way to overcome their mental hurdles and perform consistently in the playoffs, they will continue to face disappointment. As the Sharks gear up for the 2021-2022 season, fans wait with bated breath to see if they can finally break the cycle and go all the way to the Stanley Cup.