Shark Week: Where San Jose's 2005-06 team ranks in franchise history

Shark Week: Where San Jose's 2005-06 team ranks in franchise history

Editor's note: In honor of Shark Week, NBC Sports California will look back at the five best teams from Sharks franchise history. Numerous factors have been taken into consideration, including overall team success, roster makeup, historical significance and more. We continue with the 2005-06 Sharks.

The first Sharks team to win at least 44 regular-season games came in as the fifth-best team in franchise history. The next to accomplish the feat comes in fourth.

San Jose emerged from the 2004-05 NHL lockout arguably better than it went into it. After reaching their first-ever Western Conference final in 2003-04, the Sharks took advantage of the new rule changes put in place during the lockout that were designed to increase scoring.

The degree to which they took advantage, however, shot up several notches midway through the season, after the most important trade in franchise history changed the trajectory of the team for the next 15 years.

Here's a look back at the 2005-06 Sharks, the fourth-best team in franchise history:

Why they're the best

The 2005-06 Sharks stand apart from all others in franchise history due to the sheer concentration of scoring power. San Jose scored 266 goals that season, the second-highest single-season total in franchise history behind only this past year. More than a third of those goals came from two players: Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau, who combined to score 90. Cheechoo's 56 goals still stand as San Jose's single-season scoring record, 12 more than the next-closest finisher.

39 of Cheechoo's 56 goals came off an assist from Joe Thornton, with 28 of those being of the primary variety. Of course, that all came within just 58 games, as Thornton only joined San Jose in December. He came over from Boston in exchange for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart.

Safe to say, the Sharks won that trade.

In those 58 games, Thornton tallied 20 points and 72 assists, finishing one point shy of Cheechoo for the team lead. Think about that -- 92 points in 58 games.

Imagine leaving Thornton off the NHL's 100 Greatest Players list. Absolutely ridiculous.

With Cheechoo, Marleau and Thornton -- in the middle of a Hart Trophy campaign as the league's MVP -- all entering their primes and on top of their games, the Sharks arguably have never been led by such a high-powered trio.

Why they're not

The long layoff caused by the 2004-05 lockout didn't do San Jose's goaltending any favors.

In the season prior, Evgeni Nabokov posted a .921 save percentage and 2.21 goals-against average. In 2005-06, his save percentage nosedived to .885, and his goals-against average exploded to 3.10. Consequently, Nabokov was passed up on the depth chart by Vesa Toskala.

While Cheechoo, Marleau and Thornton couldn't be kept off the score sheet, there was a significant dropoff behind them. Outside of that trio, only Nils Ekman topped the 20-goal plateau, and he and defenseman Tom Preissing were the only other players to tally more than 35 total points.

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The Sharks' goaltending and scoring depth issues caught up to them in the playoffs. After defeating the Nashville Predators in a five-game first-round series, San Jose won the first two games of their Stanley Cup playoff second-round series against the Oilers.

But midway through Game 2, Edmonton's Raffi Torres got San Jose's Milan Michalek with a vicious, blindside hit to the head, sending Michalek to the dressing room. After scoring three points in the first four periods of the series, Michalek missed the next two games and was held off the score sheet for the remainder of the series. 

The Sharks never responded in-kind to Torres' hit, and that proved to be a momentum-changing event as Edmonton reeled off four consecutive victories to defeat San Jose in six games. The Oilers ultimately finished one win shy of lifting the Stanley Cup. 

Had the Sharks gotten a clutch save here, or an unexpected goal there, it might have been a different outcome. But they didn't, and that's why they rank where they do in franchise history.

Best teams in Sharks history

No. 5: 2001-02 

Sharks lament 'poor, poor effort' in third period of loss to Lightning


Sharks lament 'poor, poor effort' in third period of loss to Lightning

For the first 40 minutes of Saturday's game in Tampa Bay, the Sharks had the Lightning within their reach. Sure, San Jose went into an early 1-0 hole, but they kept grinding in an effort to even up the score.

But after finding themselves down 3-0 in the waning minutes of the second stanza, the Sharks' effort took a backseat on their way to losing 7-1. It collectively became a game San Jose wants to put in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible, but also served as an important lesson as the Sharks continue to iron out mistakes.

"It was a strange game," head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters at Amalie Arena after the loss. "At the end of 40, I was pretty happy with how we were playing. I didn't think we deserved to be down 3-0, but that was the reality. The third period was just unacceptable. A poor, poor effort. I think instead of sticking with it we started feeling sorry for ourselves after that fourth goal and maybe started thinking about tomorrow and you can't do that in this league. Throw that one out."

Logan Couture agreed with DeBoer's assessment.

"I thought we played pretty well through two, I thought we had some good five-on-five looks," Couture said. "I didn't like our third period. We gave them some many freebies and let our goalies down. For the first 40 I thought we played hard, it could have been a one or two-goal game."

San Jose generated a couple of good looks in the first 40 minutes, with a Kevin Labanc chance in the second being the best. But through two periods -- and most of the third period -- San Jose was unable to find the back of the net.

"I don't think we started as bad as maybe the score was telling us," Erik Karlsson said. "That's the way it goes sometimes."

Bolts' netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall as he came within minutes of handing the Sharks their first shutout loss of the 2019-20 season, but Couture insisted San Jose didn't put enough pressure on him.

"He played well, he made saves, but I think we could have done a better job with traffic," Couture said. "There were second opportunities around him and they did a good job of boxing us out. We've got to be hungrier around their net to score goals."

Even though the Sharks seemed content overall with how they play through the first two periods, there's no denying that the first five minutes set a tone for the rest of the evening. The Sharks were granted six minutes of power-play time thanks to a tripping penalty on Ondrej Palat 15 seconds into the game and then high-sticking double minor on Mathieu Joseph a little over five minutes later. San Jose couldn't convert on any of their chances, stretching their power-play goal drought to a ghastly 0-for-22.

While the power play isn't the only thing the Sharks have to correct after Saturday's loss, it has definitely raised concern.

"I've been trying to be patient through it," DeBoer admitted, "but it hasn't been good and it's getting to the point now where, tonight a big difference in the game was special teams. Especially when we get those early ones, that's a chance to grab some momentum on the road."

[RELATED: Hurricans poke fun at goalie after Thornton punch]

The Sharks are fortunate enough to have a quick turnaround after Saturday's loss, heading to Sunrise to face the Panthers in a Sunday matinee.

"Overall, I think this is a game we're going to have to learn from," Karlsson summarized. "We've got to figure out a way to be successful no matter who we are playing. Today was a tough one on the score sheet, but we have a game again tomorrow. We have to fix the things that make us successful."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-1 blowout loss to Lightning


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-1 blowout loss to Lightning


The Sharks' Saturday night faceoff against the Lightning wasn't nearly as fast-paced as their previous game against the Hurricanes. And, unfortunately for the Sharks, it wasn't as good of a performance.

While the Tampa Bay squad has struggled this season, they overpowered San Jose thanks to a strong performance from their netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, handing the Sharks a 7-1 loss.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game.

The other guy was better

It wasn't as if Martin Jones didn't make a couple of big saves early in the game. (At least, up until he was pulled from the game.) However, Vasilevskiy was superior on the other end of the ice.

The reigning Vezina Trophy winner was a brick wall against San Jose, coming within minutes of handing the Sharks their first shutout loss of their season.

It wasn't as if the Sharks weren't trying. They got good o-zone time and outshot the Lightning through the first 40 minutes of play. But even with a ton of pressure from San Jose's third line in the second period, Vasilevskiy remained un-phased. By the third period, the wind had been taken out of the sails of the Sharks' offense.

Doomed by special teams

This isn't the first time this season that the power play has come under scrutiny. Far from it, actually -- San Jose entered Saturday's game on a 0-for-19 stretch. But things got worse against the Bolts, as the Sharks got three opportunities in the first frame -- one minor penalty 15 seconds into the game and double minor later in the period -- and couldn't capitalize on any of them. Being on the man advantage almost looked to zap San Jose's energy.

When the Bolts got their own chance on the four-minute power play in the second stanza, they didn't have the same problem that the Sharks did. San Jose's league-leading penalty kill was almost all of the way through a Kevin Labanc high-sticking double minor when Steven Stamkos's shot picked the corner and beat Jones for Tampa's third goal on the evening.

Back on the hunt for a four-line effort

This one might seem obvious since the Sharks almost got shutout, but the effort put out by all lines needs to be noted. For a second straight game, the Joe Thornton-led third line was the strongest in San Jose's forward attack. But unlike in the Sharks' previous game, the other lines didn't generate too many good looks.

Simply put, the Sharks aren't going to win games if the majority of their team is playing a passive game like they did on Saturday. Even against a middle-of-the-pack team like the Bolts, San Jose's collective effort just wasn't good enough.