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Are the San Jose Sharks really chokers?

Apr 13, 2010, 1:30 PM EDT

jumbojoe.jpgOne of my instincts is to question conventional wisdom. (After all, if I didn’t then I would have just crumbled in high school as people laughed at my clothes and mountain scent. I was raised by wolves.) If there’s one common refrain for hockey fans, it’s that “the Sharks choke in the playoffs.”

Certainly, there’ some fire to go with that smoke. There’s that series with the Edmonton Oilers, when the team coughed up a 2-0 series lead to the Pronger fueled Oilers squad (too soon, Edmonton fans?). There were times in last year’s series against the Ducks that I felt like it might be necessary to check Joe Thornton’s pulse.

Then again, one thing strikes me about all those moments of “choking”: the Sharks lost to some really good teams (not surprising since it’s the West). Just take a look at the series they lost the last few years and what those teams went on to do.

2008-09: Sharks lose to Ducks 4-2 in the first round. Eight seeded Ducks push the Red Wings (the Western Conference’s Stanley Cup Finals representative) to the limit in a seven game series.

2007-08: Sharks lose to Stars 4-2 in the second round. Dallas has a nice run before meeting Red Wings-based reality. So San Jose loses to the team who lost to the Stanley Cup champions, basically meaning they lost to the Cup champions by One Degree of Kevin Bacon.

2006-07: Sharks lose to Red Wings 4-2 in the second round. The Red Wings lose to eventual Cup champions Anaheim. Once again, Kevin Bacon’d.

2005-06: Sharks lose to Oilers 4-2 in the second round. Oilers go on to lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

2004-05: Boo lockout. Boo to you.

2003-04: Sharks lose to Flames 4-3 in conference finals. Flames go on to lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

After looking at those results, I cannot help but wonder if the Sharks are just wildly unlucky. Everyone loves to beat up on Jumbo Joe Thornton, but his San Jose playoff numbers actually are pretty solid (35 points in 41 games). Perhaps it’s all about how they lose, not who they lose to, though. Thornton and Patrick Marleau are a microcosm of that: they aren’t prone to dramatic expressions of sadness; rarely will you see them break a stick on the ice or, you know, yell.

But are the Sharks really chokers? I’m not so sure. They might just be unlucky. Speaking of which, that Craig Anderson kid’s pretty good …

  1. SanJoseCupCrazy - Apr 13, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    17,456 season ticket holders are standing collectively on the Golden Gate Bridge this year, just waiting for a reason to jump. Go Sharks?

  2. schtimpy27 - Apr 13, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    My quick thoughts:
    It’s hard to say “chokers!” to a team that came from the worst season ever to knocking off the #1 seed Red Wings in their first ever playoff appearance. The Sharks have played Cinderella / spoiler many times. And like you mention, they came within a win of the Finals before.
    That said, it is and has been a team full of question marks for a few seasons now. We know they are good, but do they have the intangibles to be playoff great?
    The only thing I know is that I don’t know. And that is why I never make predictions.
    My other thought is that I hate that other fans think that they are terribly clever with the “choke!” or “playoff form” jokes. It’s not exactly an “oh SNAP!” moment. It’s not novel, it’s not clever, it’s just tired and stupid. Us Sharks fans have heard it before. You are burning us. We’ll probably be the first to say it. So move on to some other kind of creative, inspired trash talking, like “Crosby sucks” or “Ovenchicken blows.”

  3. Tim - Apr 14, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    Very humourous Cup Crazy…seriously. Had a good laugh. Thank god I relocated to Colorado, but I’m still a Sharks fan. I guess I’ll just have to find the nearest 14,000 ft. mountain.

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