Are the Sharks a playoff team?

San Jose Sharks’ playoff quest hinges on improved defense, health of key players – San Jose Mercury News:

So who are these guys? Are they the tight, efficient defensive team that totally shut down the NHL’s most productive offense in beating the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 on Tuesday night? Or are they the collective sieve that gave up 35 goals stumbling through a 2-6-1 trip. Give up that many goals, and you all but guarantee more losses than wins. The Sharks have 20 games — and if things fall their way, the playoffs — to provide the answer. But that “if” is what separates this season from the recent past and doubles the doubt that seems to surround the Sharks every spring.

Short answer, yes, although they are showing a distinct capability of messing it up enough to miss given how tough the west is.

Do I like the moves made at the trade deadline? Overall, yes. I like the three players (Moore, Galliardi, Winnick) Doug Wilson brought in. I think they’ll definitely help. I’m sad to see Jamie McGinn go, but he was something Colorado wanted, and I expect they’ll be happy with him. McGinn really matured this year, and showed himself to be a solid fourth going on third liner, but when his role was expanded and they auditioned him as a support player on the first and second line, that just wasn’t where he thrived.

McGinn was a player I really enjoyed watching this year. Simple play, hard play, consistent play. He reminds me a lot of Jeff Odgers (he is, actually, notably more talented than Odgers was); It would not surprise me to see McGinn play a third/fourth line role for a number of years in the league and it also wouldn’t surprise me to see him given an alternate captain position at some point. The Sharks did not give up on him or dump him, he was a value piece in the trade (unlike someone like Jed Ortmeyer).

He’s fun to watch. He brought the right attitude. He’ll help Colorado with it. Thanks for everything Jamie.

The incoming players will help the penalty kill, which we need. And hopefully make defense in general more consistent. What the Sharks really need is to get healthy; too many injuries affecting the wrong people. Losing Doug Murray hurt this team more than most folks seem to realize, and really hurt that long road trip.

I’d still play Greiss more and Niemi less, at least until Niemi shows he’s got his game back. The shutout was nice, let’s do two or three more games like that, and then I’ll relax. maybe.

The bigger question is not whether this is a playoff team, but a contender. Right now, I’m not convinced. My pick out of the west is Detroit, and I’d pick Vancouver over the Sharks right now, too. The Blackhawks are in the same “not convinced” mode as the Sharks, and I’m very wary of seeing the Kings in an early playoff round, and god help whoever meets the predators in the first round.

I just named six teams (including the Sharks) that are seriously worrying. In other words, there’s no easy first round. There’s no easy round; it’s three rounds of war to get out of the West (again). Let’s assume, just for the sake of it, that the Sharks somehow win the Pacific, and see the Kings in the first round, Nashville in the second, and Vancouver or Detroit in the western finals. Is that a set of teams the Sharks can beat in three rounds and still be able to compete in the cup final?

I’m not convinced. And if the Sharks fall to 6th or 7th in the west, and hit Detroit or Vancouver in the first round, and then have to play the Kings or Nashville, and then whichever of the Canucks or Wings they didn’t get in the first round? Good luck with that.

It’s important that the Sharks get it together and win the west, or the playoff trip is going to be beyond perilous. Even under best circumstances, winning the west is amazingly tough. and if they fall short? It’ll be more because of health issues than the trade deadline deals (or lack thereof). It’s just an amazingly tough conference — and I know fans won’t be happy at the prospect, but I’m just not convinced this is the best team in the west. it’s maybe the third best. Or even fifth, but the difference between third and sixth or seventh is really tiny. No margin of error, and this year, the sharks have been on the wrong side of that margin more often than not.

I guess we’ll see.