After four consecutive Pacific Division titles and two consecutive trips to the Western Conference Finals, the San Jose Sharks took a serious step back in 2011-12.
In fairness, their step back began in the first half of 2010-11, but a late-season turnaround saw them return to their seemingly rightful place near the top of the conference and quell concerns.
There was much less concern-quelling this time around. The Sharks hovered around the middle of the pack all season, and for the first time in a long time, they found themselves fighting for a playoff spot in the season’s final week.
It was bewildering. The consternation was palpable even in the press box. (Just win the game!)