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San Jose Sharks Preview: Rolling Past Flames, Onward To Los Angeles

The Sharks extended their winning streak to four on Wednesday when they extinguished the Calgary Flames to the tune of 6-3. "In good shape," might just be an understatement at this point for the Sharks, who look really good now as opposed to the inconsistent team they were at the beginning of the year. Head coach Todd McLellan's statements regarding the team who scores three points first as being able to get the win seem misplaced as they've scored five or more points in three of their last four outings.

Torrey Mitchell and Patrick Marleau notched two goals apiece, while Joe Pavelski put up two assists to his name and generally looked the best out there, as he has in most recent outings. It was a game in which thirteen different players put up points for the Sharks. There's a lot to be said about the Sharks and their recent success, and it's hard to put a label on who specifically is the catalyst for the success. Is it Pavelski and his consistent high-level play? Is it Devin Setoguchi, who's scoring run a short time ago set the Sharks back on the right track? Maybe it's the ever-consistent Marleau, or maybe even Mitchell, who has five goals in seven games - and to put that into perspective, he'd only had six goals over the last two years.

Maybe it's the "playoff atmosphere," that we heard about a few short weeks ago, or perhaps the teams' desire to not be in such a place too soon. Not wanting to be in a win-or-go-home scenario with their lack of success in that area in recent years could be a factor that spurned them into action. Fear The Fin's Matthew Taylor brings up an excellent point in his game recap regarding San Jose's playoff hopes:

And as the season comes to a close, the same question remains: Will this be the year for the Sharks?

Some have thought that San Jose hasn't faced enough adversity during the regular season, and that may have been the case in past seasons. This year, however, the Sharks have had to fight from opening day and as the season has started to dwindle. So far, they have been up to the challenge. That could pay dividends in the playoffs.

Now the Sharks will head to Los Angeles to take on the division rival Kings, and it starts a string of eight divisional matchups that are absolutely pivotal. These eight games are the final eight of the season, and almost everyone in the Pacific Division has a legitimate shot of making the playoffs, and will be playing accordingly. The Kings are coming off two days rest following a 2-1 win over the Flames (poor Calgary) and are looking to gain some ground in the division, as they sit in third place behind the Phoenix Coyotes.