Because they're competitive and led by a coach in Todd McLellan who despises losing and a forward in Joe Pavelski who saw a chance at perfection, the San Jose Sharks left New York unhappy Monday night. They didn't play well in a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden and ended their six-game road trip on a sour note.
But when the disappointment of the single loss eases, the Sharks can look at this stretch of road games as the time they affirmed what we all expected this past summer -- they are as real a Stanley Cup contender as there is in the NHL.
When they began their road trip, the Sharks had just one win in four games, but GM Doug Wilson wasn't ready to evaluate his team even if some of us wondered whether it was suffering from the same kind of playoff hangover that hit the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks early on this season. He didn't necessarily agree with the phrasing when I asked him about the Sharks' early struggles to start the season.
"When you say early struggles -- opening night we played great," Wilson said during a Monday afternoon phone conversation. "We had a couple games -- three games we played OK. Ten games is really a judge of where your team is, not an aberration of two or three games."
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