The San Jose Sharks have earned points in seven consecutive games. They managed to win the first six contests in regulation, and in rather convincing fashion. They weren’t able to come up with a victory tonight against the Dallas Stars, though they did manage to secure the loser point after dropping the game in a shoot out.
And you know what? It’s not a bad thing.
Hockey is a strange game. It isn’t like football where squads have six full days to recover and prepare. Typically, teams only have a few days (tops) to reflect, and then it’s right back at it. That’s why football players seem to erupt out of nowhere. That “any given Sunday” mentality.
Hockey is more nuanced (growth wise) and development takes place slowly over time. It’s a game of highs and lows, and controlling that motion and flow is key to winning a Stanley Cup. Is having depth down the center important? Absolutely. Hot goaltending is a must. So is strong coaching.
But when it all comes down to it, the team that has managed its highs and lows most effectively typically comes out on top across a seven-game playoff series. This loss to Dallas is a simple reminder that it’s the playoffs—and not a regular-season winning streak—that the Sharks are playing for.
For the first time this season, they get to go into practice and work in response to a loss. No matter how veteran laden a team may be, the air around practices and video sessions is different following a disappointing setback. This isn’t adversity like they’d be facing heading into a Game 7 after blowing a 3-0 series lead or anything, but how the Sharks respond on Saturday against the Calgary Flames is suddenly important.
The challenge doesn’t seem like a joke now. Things are real, and aren’t hidden under the veil of an incredible start—not that there’s anything unspectacular about opening the season 6-0-1. Still, Tomas Hertl is realizing that there are 82 games to an NHL season and not just five. Someone will have
to step up and take the massive minutes that Dan Boyle usually played while he recovers from a cheap shot.
San Jose is going to have to remember how to win a 3-2 hockey game early on, and that’s in no way a bad thing. Now they have a little, teeny-tiny dip. And now they have a chance to play their way back to the high. Based on what we’ve seen from the boys in teal so far in 2013-14, there’s no reason to believe that they’ll respond with anything less than impressive aplomb and intensity.