After sweeping a weekend through the Eastern Conference, the San Jose Sharks had the second-best point-percentage in the NHL at the start of Tuesday, October 29. They sit atop the Pacific Division and are one point better in the Western Conference standings than Central Division-leading Colorado Avalanche, but have played one more game.
You will pardon those San Jose fans that are wary, having seen this before. Hot streaks have been a staple of the Todd McLellan tenure behind the bench.
In the first year he took over as head coach (2008-09), the team started out far ahead of the rest of the NHL in the standings with a whopping 36-6-5 record. They ended up winning the President's Trophy, but finished the season with more losses than wins (17-12-6) and lost four of six in the Western Conference semifinals to the Pacific Division rival Anaheim Ducks.
In 2009-10, they again barely held on to the top seed in the Western Conference thanks to a mediocre finish (8-6-2) after starting out 43-13-10. That meant nothing when they were swept out one round before their virgin territory of the Stanley Cup finals.
In 2010-11, they flipped the switch and struggled into January (22-19-5) but finished 27-5-4 to earn the second seed. They still fizzled out with just one win in another Western Conference finals.
Then in 2011-12, the Sharks had an early 12-2-1 run and two other 15-game streaks with at least 21 points. Unfortunately, they had just 11 wins in the other 37 games—12 in 42 counting the franchise's quickest-ever Stanley Cup playoff exit.
Last season, they started out with seven wins but fell in the tank in February before closing hot over a 15-game period (11-3-1) that ended two games before the season did. Still, they could not even make it back to the Western Conference finals much less past it.
Why would this season be different when San Jose did not even retain all of that team much less add to it? The photo list shows five reasons the 2013-14 NHL season will be different for the Sharks.