The San Jose Sharks have long been a symbol of NHL playoff futility. Despite making the postseason in 13 of the last 14 years, including a current streak of eight in a row, they have yet to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals. This year, they enter the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, and to talk about their chances this spring.
“They did reach the conference finals the last two seasons, but there was still always something missing,” David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News told Bill Littlefield. ”They analyzed, and they went into an off-season where they decided they had one too many top-six forwards and one too-few top tier defensemen. They made a couple of trades with Minnesota to try to mix things up there, went to a more defense-oriented system, and actually had a fairly disappointing season.”
Compared to other seasons where San Jose has entered the playoffs as one of the top seeds, this year the Sharks must face the St. Louis Blues, who allowed the fewest goals in the league this year. However, Pollak said that the Sharks are relishing the opportunity to be the underdog.
“The coach has talked about that, he thinks it can work in their favor,” Pollak said. “Todd McLellan wants his team to play freer, and they can do that now. They don’t have the world’s expectations on them. This is a different position for them to be in.”