San Jose Sharks' up-and-down season highlights quirks of shortened schedule

Thearon W. Henderson

The San Jose Sharks have been up and down all season long, and their position on the playoff bubble highlights the quirks of the shortened 2013 NHL season.

On Feb. 1, it would have been easy to make an argument that the San Jose Sharks were the best team in the NHL.

Having compiled a perfect 7-0-0 record following the first month of the season, the Sharks sat atop the league standings with the most points, most goals for and fewest goals against.

However, things quickly took a turn for the worse in the season's second month, as the team followed up their seven game winning streak with a seven game winless streak. Collecting an 0-5-2 record over that span, the team was outscored by their opponents, 21-8.

By March 1, the Sharks had fallen out of a playoff spot and had individuals speculating whether the team might look to re-shape the roster at the trade deadline in hopes of improving for the future.

While this course of action was taken in the trades of Douglas Murray and Ryane Clowe, the Sharks still managed to re-established some elements of their early season form. Mainly, finding a propensity for winning.

Entering competition on March 25, San Jose was one point out of the eighth seed in the West. The Sharks had lost their most recent contest and had registered a record of 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. That night, the team defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 5-3. It would mark the first game of the team's second seven-game winning streak of the season.

Over that span, the Sharks outscored their opponents 21-10 and catapulted themselves into the fifth seed in the West.

The winning streak ultimately came to an end following a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon. However, the Sharks still collected points in eight-straight games and have compiled an impressive 8-1-1 record in their last 10.

San Jose enters competition on Monday night one point back of the Los Angeles Kings for the fourth seed, with Los Angeles having played one-more game.

While it would be premature to congratulate the Sharks for anything more than an impressive string of wins, this example proves how quickly a team's fortune can change with any kind of extended streak, especially during a shortened season. A playoff team can quickly find themselves out of contention with a slide, while a bubble team could find themselves fighting for home-ice advantage in the first-round of the playoffs with a string of success.

As the irregular nature of the 2013 season comes to a close, more attention will be paid to the tight playoff races in each contest. With the eighth seed in each grouping separated by only a few points from the teams below them, an extended string of success or a run of futility could result in a drastic change in the playoff picture.

The Sharks will return to action on Tuesday night when they challenge the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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