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Late-season tailspin: Is it finally over?
Not much optimism can be found 10 days before the playoffs begin
4/2/17 - By Paul Krill -

This past Sunday, the Sharks won a game in regulation for the first time in 19 days. That's nearly three weeks, for a team that had been having a dominant season until this recent skid that saw the team lose eight of nine game. And Sunday's game in Vancouver could prove to be be a very Pyrrhic victory: Joe Thornton hobbled off the ice, barely mobile, and nobody immediately after the game was over knew what his status was. I really can't remember the last time he was injured, it's been so long.

First, Logan Couture gets hurt and now it may be Joe Thornton. All this right before the playoffs. It can't make anybody feel optimistic, with the Sharks' recent spiral down the standings, racking up loss after loss after loss and seeing top players knocked off the ice. Injuries aside, I can't help but think the Sharks finally caved after a barrage of back-to-back games and three-games-in-four-nights scheduling.

The almost-daily game schedule looked like a baseball schedule at times. And remember - the Sharks played until June last year so they had a short off-season. Maybe the team is just burnt out by now.

The Sharks will finish out the regular season before entering the playoffs, having qualified based on their play through most of the season, certainly not because of their play of late. A month ago, we could have all been excited about the prospect of this coming post-season.

But with a now-faltering, possibly Thornton-less team, a lot of the excitement has dissipated. Players like Thomas Hertl, Jonas Donskoi, Timo Meier, etc, are going to have to step up big if we want a playoff run like we had last year.

Right now, the situation kind of reminds me of 2008-2009, the Sharks' President's Trophy season. They steamrolled over the rest of the league the first couple of months of the season, but their play began to diminish afterward. By playoff time, they didn't put up much of a fight, bowing out to eighth-seed Anaheim in six games. I hope they fare much better than that this time around.

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