Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post So How F’d Are the Sharks, Historically?

March 22nd, 2010, 7:16 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

Now that the Sharks are firmly in WTF-land, it’s time to prognosticate on their postseason chances.  The Sharks, even as bad as they’ve been playing, are still (barring the craziest thing I’ve ever seen) assured a spot in the postseason.  The question for today is- how do teams fare when they have a major meltdown like this late in the season?  I’m going to define a meltdown as a losing streak of 5 games or more (or 3 games to end the season), and ‘late in the season’ I’ll define as March and April.  Roughly the last 6 weeks.  I’m only doing post-lockout, because before the lockout there were ties, and having a bunch of ties in the middle of a winless streak doesn’t seem like the same thing.  Let’s go to the chart:

Year Team Streak Final Loss Date Seed Depth in Postseason
2010 Sharks 6 ?? ?? ??
2010 Senators 5 ?? ?? ??
2009 Devils 6 4/1/09 3 1st
2009 Habs 5 3/21/09 8 1st
2009 Hawks 5 3/20/09 4 2nd
2008 Devils 5 3/27/08 4 1st
2008 Wild 5 3/13/08 3 1st
2008 Stars 5 3/27/08 5 3rd
2007 Flames 4 4/8/08 8 1st
2006 Sabres 5 3/25/06 4 3rd
2006 Rangers 5 4/18/06 6 1st

Nine teams in four years was a little more than I was expecting.  Six of the nine lost in the first round, which sounds like a lot, but keep in mind 50% of the teams that make it to the playoffs lose in the first round.  That’s really only one team over a random distribution.  Five of the nine were the top four seed, which is basically random.  No 1- or 2-seeds, which I suppose is to be expected- it’s hard to retain the conference lead when you drop 5 or more games in a row late in the year.  The fact that none of the teams went to the finals is also easily within the bounds of random chance.

When I started this tedious process, I was expecting the overwhelming majority (if not all) of the teams to get smoked early in the playoffs, and that’s just not the case.  The two teams that went to the conference finals were four and five seeds, which is likely where the Sharks will end up.  On the flip side of the coin, the top two teams in seeding, the 2009 Devils and 2008 Wild, both lost in the first round.  There also seems to be little correlation between the lateness of the streak and the playoff outcome.  If the Sharks win either Tuesday or Thursday, they will be tied for 6th in ‘lateness’.

So what’s the conclusion?  Losing five games in a row in the last 6 weeks of the season is not significantly correlated to playoff disappointment.  Mostly because Sharks teams of recent years aren’t on this list.  Har!

But seriously, if the Sharks manage to right the ship a little bit this week, there’s not much reason to think they are automatically doomed.  However, if they lose the next ten, I’d say that’ll be unprecedented.

12 Comments to “So How F’d Are the Sharks, Historically?”

  1. Evilducks says:

    I’ve been reading forums Mike and I’m convinced we’re doomed despite your ‘facts’. All these people on the internet seem to know better what to do than the coaches and players who have been involved in professional hockey all of their lives.

    I’m going go do my best impersonation of David Carradine in an attempt to finish this season like the Sharks.

    • Nazi Troll says:

      Is that you Gary Radnich?

    • Patrick says:

      I definitely sympathize with you that the hand-wringing and finger-pointing can start to wear on you. But just because the coaches and players have been involved in professional hockey all of their lives, it doesn’t mean their decisions are perfect. I don’t think there’s any way to justify Rob Blake’s recent ice time, for example…

      • Evilducks says:

        My big complaints right now are the line shuffling, Nabby starting every single game and of course Blake’s ice time.

        I just want to know what happened to all the people that said it doesn’t matter how they play in the regular season, it’s the playoffs that matter. If winning doesn’t translate into winning in the post season, then why does losing?

        • Mike says:

          Intellectual consistency is generally too much to ask from emotional sports fans. Readers of this blog excluded, of course.

        • WingsFanInSharkLand says:

          Great point ED. Similarly, I wonder how winning a gold medal translates into winning in the post season. I’m still trying to figure that one out 😉

          • Evilducks says:

            Ugh, I still don’t want anything to do with the Wings in the post season.

            I’m not saying we match up great against the rest of the West… we just match up better against the rest of the west than we do to the Wings.

          • Patrick says:

            Especially when Chicago also had a ton of gold medalists (Toews, Keith, Seabrook… am I missing one?) and a silver medalist.

            Whichever one comes out of the West (if either), people will say the Olympic success fueled it. If one (or both) flames out early, people will say they were worn down from the extra Olympic games.

          • WingsFanInSharkLand says:

            Yep. It goes back to your point about Tejada and the cause/effect relationship. I totally agree.

  2. Tom says:

    I think it’s more humorous to watch people freak out…. about other people freaking out….

  3. Patrick says:

    Streaky play reminds me of a Billy Beane story from a few years ago. Miguel Tejada went into the year without a contract extension. He got off to a horrible start at the plate, and Beane got questions all the time from reporters asking “do you think Tejada is off to such a bad start because he’s worried about not having a contract?” Beane would try to explain statistics and random distributions and so on…

    Later in the year, Tejada went on a tear at the plate. One of the same reporters asked Beane “do you think Tejada is hitting so well because he’s playing for a new contract?”

    The point is, these things happen and as human beings it’s only natural to want to assign some sort of cause-and-effect relationship, even if one doesn’t exist. We look for meaning in randomness. The Sharks have been on a (really) bad run, but they’re still the same guys that whipped off long winning streaks earlier in the year, and they can still skate out some of the most talented players in the NHL. And that will still be true a few weeks from now in the playoffs.

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