San Jose Sharks Success Swimming Under the Radar

San Jose Sharks Have Flown Under the Radar for Nearly 26 Years (Since Their Inception). After Finally Getting Over That Elusive Hump in 2016, the Sharks Look Poised to Make Some Noise in the Spring.

For almost their entire 26 season existence, the San Jose Sharks have seemingly always flown under the radar. Great players like Owen Nolan, Igor Larionov, and Jeremy Roenick have all worn the teal and white at points in their career, yet they’ve never garnered a whole lot of national attention.

Even after playing in their first ever Stanley Cup Final this June, the Sharks have gone largely unnoticed by fans around the league.

One of the reasons people tend to overlook San Jose is because of how routinely good they are. Currently, the Sharks hold the Pacific Division lead with an impressive 22-12-1 record and 45 points. Seeing the club in a position to make the postseason doesn’t come as a surprise considering the Sharks have only missed the playoffs twice in the last 18 seasons.

But the routinely good regular season play hasn’t led to enough success in the playoffs, with last season’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Cup Final being their best run in franchise history. In the team’s previous playoff appearance in 2014 the Sharks infamously blew a 3-0 series to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, cementing their place in most fans minds as a “regular season team”.

Successful Turnaround

After missing the playoffs entirely in 2015, San Jose decided to make a couple of key changes in the offseason. Sharks GM Doug Wilson brought in Peter DeBoer as head coach and acquired goaltender Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins. The acquisitions were a huge reason for the team’s run to the Cup Final and for their successes this season.

Even with the changes surrounding them, the Sharks veterans have still been the leaders on the scoreboard. Defenseman Brent Burns leads the team in points with 34, while captain Joe Pavelski follows close behind with 33. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture have over 23 points each to round out the top four.

San Jose’s depth role players haven’t had problems getting on the scoresheet either. Joonas Donskoi, Joel Ward, and Chris Tierney have all been contributing on a regular basis, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Paul Martin have solid point totals on the blue line.

One of the biggest keys to the San Jose Sharks success has been Jones and his 18-11-1 record. Jones has brought stability to the San Jose net not seen since Evgeni Nabokov’s prime, posting a .919 save percentage and sits third among the league in wins.

Silent Attack

But why is it that with all these great pieces in place, no one in the NHL seems to notice? The answer seems to lie within the team’s design as a hard battling club, where flashiness is secondary to solidity. Teams like the Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t noticed simply because they’re successful. They’re given screen time for their highlight reel players and goals as well as their victories. The San Jose Sharks are a team with a cast of talented players, but none have the flash of Crosby or McDavid. Pavelski and Burns come the closest, but they’re not at the level of the league’s other stars.

Yet that lack of a bona fide superstar is what makes San Jose so dangerous. Much like a real shark, you don’t notice them until they’ve already attacked, and by then it’s far too late. They’ve quietly risen to the top of the Pacific, and if no one takes notice, the Cup will soon follow.

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