After years of falling short despite often ranking among the NHL’s pre-season favorites, the San Jose Sharks made their deepest run one year after not even making the playoffs at all.
That thought probably explains why, for many, the pain of falling two wins short of a first-ever Stanley Cup victory is dulled by the Sharks being (gasp) overachievers.
You could call the Sharks a lot of things since Joe Thornton was traded over to sunnier climates from Boston, but rarely were expectations low enough for them to over-achieve.
They did just that in their first season under head coach Peter DeBoer, however.
While their turnaround made less noise than the team that beat them in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, the Sharks echoed the Penguins in finishing the 2015-16 season on a roll. They didn’t let a troubling 18-18-2 mark (as of Jan. 7) derail their season, managing to grab the third spot in the Pacific, exorcising some Los Angeles Kings demons and going on a memorable run.
Here’s another Penguins parallel: the Sharks didn’t really lose anyone of note this summer.
When you get that close to winning it all, standing pat isn’t so bad, although GM Doug Wilson didn’t totally snooze on the job. He added a burst of speed with winger Mikkel Boedker, whose flaws are easier to ignore considering the team’s need for speed and a reasonable $4 million cap hit.
The Sharks also added respected defensive depth in David Schlemko, giving the team an enviable D corps.
Still, there are some lingering questions.
Can Martin Jones back up a strong first season as a No. 1 goalie? Will anything come from yet another round of Patrick Marleau trade rumors? Will a fairly old core of Joe Thornton, Marleau, Joe Pavelski (already 32) and others get creaky after that playoff push?
PHT will address quite a few of those queries on a Sharks Sunday.