Sharks

Sharks

After holding on to beat the Coyotes 4-2 on Saturday, Sharks center Dylan Gambrell told NBC Sports California play-by-play broadcaster Randy Hahn that he "really thinks our game has turned around." 

Gambrell wasn't just talking about the impressive come-from-behind victory he and his teammates staged in Arizona on Saturday. He was talking about the month of November as a whole, in which the Sharks have rebounded from being one of the worst teams in the Western Conference to being a force to be reckoned with. 

Now, it's a matter of keeping that positive progression going.

Think about it. San Jose finished out the month of October with a 4-8-1 record -- which included a four-game losing streak to start the season -- and then promptly lost a home back-to-back against the Jets and the Canucks. At that point, there were so many questions as to what was ailing the Sharks, and whether they would be able to get things turned around in time be competitive in their division, let alone fight for a playoff spot.

But after those back-to-back losses at the start of November, San Jose seemed to find their groove both up front as well as on the back end. They went 11-2-0 after that, tying the franchise record for the most wins in the month of November.

To top it all off, Saturday's win over the Coyotes marked the first time all season that the Sharks, who skated into the first intermission down 2-1, won a game when trailing after the first 20 minutes.

It's safe to say that, last Wednesday's loss to the Jets notwithstanding, the Sharks look like a completely rejuvenated team. Now, it's a matter of keeping that forward motion going. 

San Jose still has some work to do in regards to their depth scoring, although that could be coming around if the last few games of November are any indication. The Sharks got scoring contributions from bottom-six staple Melker Karlsson on Wednesday against Winnipeg and from fourth-liners Noah Gregor and Dylan Gambrell over the holiday weekend.

Whether the current bottom six stays intact as is remains to be seen, especially with regards to call-ups from the AHL and the trades still being on the table. At least, at the moment, the Sharks are trending in the right direction.

The other big factor if San Jose is going to continue the success they started in November is going to be how well they keep the puck out of the back of their net. As we've seen, the Sharks are their most successful when keeping goals-against to a minimum, as opposed to trying to outscore their problems.

Their success in this department will require their blue line to keep backing up their goaltender, as we saw in one fell swoop on Saturday in Arizona. When San Jose's defense came out loose and had trouble managing the puck in their own end, the opposition put them in an early 2-0 hole. When they tightened up on the back end and let their strong defensive play feed into their offense, they were able to rally from behind and overcome that deficit.

Now, the schedule doesn't get any easier for the Sharks. While they have climbed into third place in the Pacific division standings, their rivals are right on their heels. Plus, San Jose has a road trip at the start of December where they visit the Florida teams and the Sharks don't always fare so well through that swing. 

 

They can, however, be happy with how they have turned things around in the month of November. And with the win over the Coyotes to close out the month, they have a foundation to build more success.