I was thinking last night after the Sharks beat the Coyotes that at the pace they are going, will anything short of the Stanley Cup be considered a successful season for the Sharks? At this point, I'm not sure. Ever since their unreal 9-2 October, the Sharks have been near or at the top of the NHL. Nabokov playing stellar in net, the top three lines producing, all of the blueliners stepping up big time (Including Joslin), and an entire team effort nearly every night. Going into tonight's games, the Sharks hold a 24 point lead over Phoenix and Anaheim. Short of a major meltdown, the division should be well in hand.
The scary part is, Mitchell and Roenick have been out for quite some time and Boyle and Lukowich have been out for a short time. Without them, the Sharks still are dominating most teams they play. With them back, the Sharks have a very talented and fast lineup. The bad part is, when all four of them come back, who gives way to make room on the roster? Joslin, unfortunately, will get the short end of that stick. I understand that it's the easiest move because he doesn't have to clear waivers. That leaves two forwards that will have to be healthy scratches most nights. Nobody really has played bad enough to be demoted that way.
As a long time Sharks fan, I have yet to get all giddy about the playoffs. I remember the bad old days. When they made the playoffs it was an early exit to Colorado or Dallas. I remember teams with a ton of talent that would fold like a cheap card table in the second round. I'm also among the very small handful of people that would publicly remember the 70 loss year. So, I am a little nervous. There are too many teams that are right around the 8th seed that are capable of catching the Sharks off guard.
If things do work out and the Sharks do reach the conference finals but lose, will the season be a successful one? That depends. If the Sharks are knocked out by Detroit, I'm forced to say no. If they lose at all...to anyone...I think I am also forced to say no as well. It's all or nothing for the Sharks this year. There just isn't enough young talent in Worcester to make up for the amount of veterans who may be gone in a year or two. Don't get me wrong, the Sharks will be among the NHL elite for several more years, it's just their best chance for a cup appears to be this year.