The San Jose Sharks are officially in danger of missing the playoffs.
And that’s a pretty big story, given they haven’t done that since 2003.
With just two wins in their last eight, it’s gotten to the point where coach Todd McLellan is being asked if his squad is really, truly postseason-worthy.
“Yes, we’re a playoff team,” McLellan insisted, per Curtis Pashelka of Bay Area News Group.
“We are a playoff team. I want our guys to believe that they’re a playoff team. We’ll be accountable based on being a playoff team. Players, coaches, everybody.”
No disrespect to McLellan, but those words don’t mean a whole heck of a lot. They are, after all, only words. And the Sharks have been saying all the right clichés dating back weeks now.
For whatever reason — and it’s not because the core of the roster changed significantly, that’s for sure — this team just isn’t as good it was a year ago.
In 2013-14, the Sharks were right up there with the Kings and Blackhawks in terms of puck possession, and they finished the regular season with a record of 51-22-9.
After 58 games of 2014-15, the Sharks are a mediocre possession team and, per Sports Club Stats, have seen their playoff chances fall to just 47.3 percent.
Perhaps it’s all just a psychological hangover from what happened in the playoffs. (We are, of course, talking about a franchise that one columnist described during the summer as “having a bit of nervous breakdown.”)
Then again, maybe it’s the five rookies that have played 20 or more games.
Or 35-year-old Patrick Marleau, with just 11 goals in 58 games.
Or 2013 Vezina Trophy finalist Antti Niemi, with a pedestrian .911 save percentage.
Regardless, it all adds up to what should be an interesting final two months of the regular season, and perhaps an even more interesting offseason.
The Sharks are in Nashville to play the Predators tonight.
Related: Sharks-Kings outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium sold out