There are plenty of ways to mark the time when the San Jose Sharks transitioned from a shrug-inducing expansion team to a regular contender.
Some point to the work of former GM Dean Lombardi. Others define it by the beginning of the Evgeni Nabokov era through current times.
If you want a fun – if not exact – way to look at it, how about this: the last time the Philadelphia Flyers beat them at home. Just take a look at what the Sharks have done since that 3-1 defeat on Nov. 5, 1999:
- Ten playoff appearances in 11 opportunities.
- Five Pacific Division titles.
- 11-10 in playoff series.
- Three appearances in the Western Conference finals.
- One Presidents Trophy.
Say what you will about the Sharks supposed “choking” ways, but considering where they were in November 1999, you’d be wacky to claim that they haven’t come a long way.
Tonight’s game against the Flyers ranked as one of their tightest matches in the two teams’ rare matches in San Jose. The Sharks rode a Ryane Clowe goal and Antti Niemi’s 26-save shutout to a 1-0 win.
Both the Sharks and Flyers are now in sixth place in their respective conferences, with San Jose being far closer to the top of its division (73 points to Phoenix’s 75) than Philly is to the Atlantic (75 to the Rangers’ 86).
It doesn’t seem very likely at the moment, but hockey fans would be in for a treat if the Flyers received another chance to break their losing streak in San Jose in 2011-12 – a chance that could only come in the Stanley Cup finals.