SAN JOSE, CA - The San Jose Sharks have sat atop the Pacific division for more than a month now, but by virtue of having had games in hand nearly all season long, the Sharks are swimming under the radar.
Over the course of this season, San Jose has been playing consistently superb hockey. Yet if you don’t live in the Bay Area, you might not be aware just how good they have been. Only once have the Sharks failed to pickup at least one point in three consecutive games – their lone pointless stretch coming early in the season, during games two through four back in early October.
Since then, San Jose has posted a record of 28-11-6, the equivalent of a .688 winning percentage.
“Overall this year we have been pretty consistent,” commented rugged winger Ryane Clowe. “We had a couple of little droughts where we couldn’t seem to get a win but we still picked up points and played pretty well. I like the consistency.”
Clowe returned to the lineup last Thursday night after missing six games with a facial fracture. Wearing a visor for the first time, Clowe chipped in his tenth goal of the season as the Sharks rolled over the Dallas Stars 5-2.
But even while Clowe was out and fellow winger Martin Havlat still sidelined through injury, the Sharks have been able to remain atop the division by getting contributions up and down the roster.
One of the most notable role players having a career year is third line winger Jamie McGinn, who has already set a career high in assists (9) and points (19), playing in all 49 of San Jose’s games this season. His next goal will be his 11th which would also be a career mark.
McGinn discussed his squad’s ability to fight through tough stretches and stay focused on the end goal: “It’s all about staying level headed. The season is a bumpy road. You know it’s a long process. That’s why they have 82 games,” chimed the 23-year-old winger.
“It seems like every team is getting at least one point a night so you have to battle to get the one, but you want two every night to stay atop the division and the conference. We got a good group of guys here. We’re in it together. It’s not all individual.”
McGinn has found a home on the third line alongside veteran center Michal Handzus and Torrey Mitchell. The chemistry on the unit has provided some consistent depth for the Sharks.
With such a veteran group at all positions, it isn’t surprising the manner of level headedness inside the dressing room. There is plenty of veteran leadership in all types of roles on the roster whether it be captain and No.1 center Joe Thornton, depth defenseman Colin White or tough-guy forward Brad Winchester.
This group never seems to get too high or too low.
“We’re and older hockey club. A more mature team. [We've] been through a lot as an organization,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.
“We’ve learned that getting too high does you absolutely no good and perhaps getting too down or not believing in each other is damaging as well. So hopefully we can keep it even keel.”
So far, the Sharks have been doing just that, staying even keel and winning at an impressive clip. They may not be making headlines nationally, but that certainly doesn’t matter to this group. These Sharks love swimming unnoticed.