Earlier this season, the San Jose Sharks didn’t know how to stop the bleeding. While they would put together impressive winning steaks, they would just as easily succumb to long stretches of losing where they couldn’t find a way to break out of their funk.
However, as the calendar has turned to 2016, the Sharks have learned how to respond after poor performances. San Jose hasn’t lost back-to-back games since the beginning of January as their bounce back ability has allowed them to shoot their way up the Pacific Division standings.
After a dismal defensive performance against the Calgary Flames, San Jose responded with a great victory last night against the Arizona Coyotes, limiting the visitors to only one shot on goal during the final frame. It was a dominating third period as the boys in teal went on the attack instead of sitting back on their heels.
The Sharks ability to handle failure and not allow their losses to spiral out of control is one of the key differences between this year’s team. Last season, San Jose fell apart during the month of February losing all eight of their home contests.
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This year, the Sharks are finding different ways to win games as they continue their push for the postseason.
Their bounce-back ability has been on display in recent weeks as San Jose has responded after tough outings. Following a hard-fought loss in Anaheim after the All-Star break, the Sharks put forth a full 60-minute effort in downing the St. Louis Blues.
Then, after being trounced in Nashville in a rare off night, San Jose came right back and shut out the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks as Martin Jones made 33 saves in the victory.
While the Sharks are far from a finished product, this team is developing a mental toughness, something that was definitely lacking a season ago. This San Jose team keeps on pushing and scrapping, rather than wilting.
One of the key reasons has been Peter DeBoer’s ability to roll all four lines, and the Sharks best players have been at their best. Case in point, the fourth line was the catalyst for San Jose’s first two goals while Brent Burns was making plays all over the ice.
Also, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski have provided leadership all season long and the distribution of offense means this team is never out of a game.
With 28 games remaining, the Sharks are well positioned to enter the Stanley Cup chase this spring, and their ability to respond after tough losses will be necessary as they look to make a playoff run.
Luckily for San Jose, they are learning how to respond from adversity and not allow losing to become a habit.