The Sharks are a completely different team than they were through the first half of the season. They were the very model of inconsistency, having days of excellence coupled with days of absolute mediocrity. The only regularity in their play was the inconsistency of it all, and if you could count on anything, it was that you couldn't count on the Sharks. Fast forward to about a week ago and the Sharks were picking up their fourth straight win against the Detroit Red Wings.
Detroit fell to a score of 4-3 and the Sharks were definitely in business. On Wednesday, they took on the Pittsburgh Penguins, and though they were without Sidney Crosby, San Jose's eventual win was just as sweet. Then, in their most recent outing, they came from behind to best the Calgary Flames in a thrilling shootout victory.
Devin Setoguchi has been on, while Ryane Clowe has been going all "RYAN CLOWE" on folks. Clowe was the lone scorer in the shootout, and was also the man to tie the game with a wrister at 2:34 remaining in the final frame. The aforementioned Setoguchi also scored for the Sharks, along with Kyle Wellwood in the first and second periods, respectively.
Another reason for the Sharks recent success might be something you'd not expect: an injury. Antti Niemi was so-so at the beginning of the season and actually fell behind in public perception and coach's favor as the starter to Antero Niittymaki, but has played better and better since being inserted into the role after Niittymaki's injury put him on the bench. You could call it rising to the occasion, and rise Niemi has, blocking 21 shots through overtime in their most recent outing, and although he's not always been perfect, he's done enough more often than naught.
The week ahead has the Sharks taking on the Detroit Red Wings and the Dallas Stars, but first they will host the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. The Avalanche are, how you say, not very good. Winning just one game in February, the Avalanche have allowed three goals in eighteen-straight games. Eighteen straight games. That's the first time it has happened since the expansion Atlanta Thrashers of 2000. If you don't know how laughably significant that last sentence is, work Google for a little while and you will be morbidly curious, in a "Oh man, are those two trains on the same track going at each other, I can't look away!" kind of way.
It's obviously foolish to overlook a professional hockey team and assume any game on the calender is a marked win before it happens, but the Sharks have to feel good coming back to the HP Pavilion in San Jose with the win streak they're on. To add a seventh win to that would certainly help their chances of dealing with the Red Wings and Stars again on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.