So, after years of regular season success followed swiftly, often cruelly, by post-season failure, the San Jose Sharks have cleared two sizeable hurdles en route to the Stanley Cup. The Sharks survived the first round, an accomplishment in itself in the NHL's often upset-studded play-off derby, and then eliminated Detroit, their arch-rivals, in Round 2. The Sharks recovered from an own-goal in Round 1 that put them down two games to one against Colorado, the No 8 seeds, and rallied from a 7-1 drubbing in Game 4 against Detroit to eliminate the Red Wings in Game 5.
Whatever happens in the Western Conference final - probably against the young, fast and skilled Chicago Blackhawks - the Sharks have broken the curse of play-offs past.With Evgeni Nabokov, their goalkeeper, turning in the best post-season of his career, with the top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley finding their form in Round 2, and the rest of the team following the lead of Dan Boyle, the defenceman, and Joe Pavelski, their breakout star, the Sharks are finally playing up to their play-off potential. They might not win it all this spring, but for the first spring in many years, the supremely skilled Sharks refuse to beat themselves.