The San Jose Sharks recently lost their first round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings. That in itself isn’t very noteworthy, even though they had home ice advantage. What is of particular interest, however, is the way in which they lost; the Sharks became only the fifth team in major American sports history to blow a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.
Unfortunately for San Jose, this is merely one of many recent postseason failures, particularly given their immense success during the regular season. The Sharks are one of only two franchises, along with the Detroit Red Wings, to qualify for the NHL playoffs each of the past 10 seasons. Over that span, they have won five division titles and were the Western Conference’s #1 seed twice, averaging a whopping 105.7 points per season* (second only to Detroit).
And yet, for all their consistency atop the NHL standings over the past decade – the Sharks are the only team to have posted 95 or more points in each of the past 10 seasons – they have never appeared in a Stanley Cup Final.
NHL Teams Averaging 95+ Points Over the Past 10 Seasons
|Team||Avg. Pts.||100+ Pts.||Finals|
|Detroit Red Wings||107.0||8||2|
|San Jose Sharks||105.7||7||0|
|New Jersey Devils||96.9||6||1|
Making the postseason so often affords a team the opportunity to win a lot of playoff games, something the Sharks certainly have done. However, of the five teams (six, if the L.A. Kings win the Cup this year) that have won at least 10 playoff series over the past 10 seasons, San Jose is the only one to have not advanced to the Finals twice. Or even once, for that matter.
Just a few days ago, it looked like the Sharks were in a decent position to potentially end their Finals drought. They finished the regular season with 111 points, the third-most in franchise history. San Jose was also among the top-five in the entire league in both goals for and goals allowed this year. And, of course, they led their first round series against the Kings, 3-0. The Sharks then proceeded to lose the next four games – all by three or more goals, including a 5-1 blowout at home in Game 7 – resulting in the most shocking exit of what has become a decade-long string of disappointing postseasons.
* normalizing the shortened 2012-2013 season to a full 82 games
(photo by Elliot)