The San Jose Sharks didn't get to where they wanted to, perhaps, this regular season, but they did enough to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the tenth straight year and the 15th time in the last 16 seasons.
It's a very impressive run for the organization, of course, that still holds the record for most losses in a season (71, set in 1992-93). But it does lack the jewel at the top -- that elusive silver Stanley Cup itself.
Three times since 2004, the San Jose Sharks have reached the Western Conference finals, but they've never advanced to Lord Stanley's round of the National Hockey League playoffs. Thus, the eternal Sharks fan question -- "Is this the year?" -- is on everyone's lips again.
It seems to be an annual spring ritual around these parts, doesn't it? The players and coaches come and go, but the question remains the same -- as does the sad song sung at the end of the postseason, as Sharks fans have had to watch the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings win it all in recent seasons.
Neither of those franchises has the sustained success the Sharks do in the regular season over the years, but they've gotten hot at the right time -- in the playoffs. The Kings won the Cup in 2012 as the No. 8 seed in the West, even.
So why not San Jose? The team and its fans certainly are due for a magical run to the end of the hockey rainbow.
The Sharks did win their last two games of the season after being eliminated from the Pacific Division title hunt, which is somewhat typical for the San Jose squad: lose the games that matter, win the ones that mostly do not. But the win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, a 5-2 thrashing, was impressive nonetheless, considering the opponent's need to win.
Saturday's 3-2 road victory over the hapless Phoenix Coyotes was more commonplace for the Sharks, facing a team on a losing streak with nothing to play for -- and barely winning.
Thus San Jose finishes with a 51-22-9 record overall, including a conference-best 29 wins at home. So it's very important that the Sharks have home-ice advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs, where they will face those Kings (again).
In 2011, San Jose eliminated L.A. in the first round in six games, and in 2013, the Kings eliminated the Sharks in seven games. There is some history here.
What the Sharks would like to do is emulate the Kings' run to the 2012 Cup, however -- only time will tell if that kind of fortune is on San Jose's side in 2014.