Since a six-game losing streak back in January, the San Jose Sharks have went 26-4-4, including the eight game winning streak they're on, broken only by a shootout loss on March 24th to the Los Angeles Kings. Including that loss, the Sharks four straight, by a combined score of 20-4, scoring six goals four times in their last nine outings. Speaking of Los Angeles, the division rivals helped the Sharks secure their fourth-straight Pacific Division title by dropping a 6-1 game on Monday night.
After securing a playoff spot with a 6-0 win over the Dallas Stars on March 31st, the Sharks did not slow down one bit. Well, they slowed down for about a period, where the Anaheim Ducks took a 2-0 lead in their game on Saturday, but they rallied back with four unanswered goals to take the contest, before the aforementioned 6-1 drubbing of the Kings on Monday.
It seems like every single player is playing at the absolute top of his game, so it's difficult to single out any one player. Goalie Antti Niemi has been very solid for San Jose, and is a dependable netminder going into the playoffs. Niemi was the guy I picked out as being a big reason for the Sharks' turnaround after the aforementioned six-game losing streak. Joe Thornton reached 999 career points on Monday when he notched a goal and an assist. Kyle Wellwood, another player who came over and fit right in, scored once and had two assists to his credit. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle all had a goal and an assist in the game.
The win put San Jose one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference, to get the second seed, and both teams have three games remaining to play. The Sharks can't afford to let up now if they want that second seed, and I don't expect them to. They're playing like every single second of every period counts, and it does. Going into the playoffs with this kind of mentality will be big for the Sharks. I feel like the team will have a lot more faith in themselves as a team than they did in previous years, because they had to work to get this far.
Either way, take a step back and celebrate, at the very least, a third seed in the Western Conference. The Sharks have one game remaining against the Ducks, and their final two outings will be against the Phoenix Coyotes.