Last year the San Jose Sharks’ playoff run lasted all of five games. Will things be any different this time around?
They certainly believe things have changed.
“100 percent,” Sharks forward T.J. Galiardi said in a CSN Bay Area report. “Confidence is one big thing. I don’t think we felt great going into the playoffs. No one admitted it last year, but we didn’t really feel great going into it. This year we’re so balanced up front, that any one of our lines can hurt other teams.
“It’s going to be hard for other teams to try and figure out how to match up against us. We feel way better about it this year than last year.”
The Sharks’ season was one of extremes. They won their first seven games, only to follow it up with a 5-10-6 stretch. Not long after that they got on another seven-game winning streak and eventually landed the sixth seed.
Along the way, the Sharks think they found a team identity.
“I think in the past 15-20 games we’ve found what made us successful and gives us success on the ice, and that’s playing a north-south game,” forward Tommy Wingels said.
“At times you can make pretty plays, but at other times you’ve just got to advance the puck. With teams swarming and constantly hounding the puck, you’ve got to move forward. That’s something we’ve got to continue to do.”
It helps that the Sharks have been one of the best teams in the league when it comes to killing penalties and that goaltender Antti Niemi has been strong, even during the Sharks’ rough patches.
“We’ve been playing a better game for a longer period now, and we’ve had more unity with our team as far as lines and pairings go down the stretch than we did last year,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan.
The question is if it will be enough when their first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks starts on Wednesday.