I threw some graphs together today just to compare the results of the first 51 games of this year's Sharks team to the two previous cup-winners. There's really nothing too much to point out, except that I only included regulation results -- anything that happened after the 60-minute mark was flat-out ignored.
Right now the Sharks have outpaced both the 06-07 Ducks and the 07-08 Red Wings in terms of regulation standings points earned. I think it's worth noting that both the previous cup-winners had midseason slumps that largely had to do with multiple injuries: the Ducks had only two wins in an eleven-game stretch starting in game 40 (essentially where the Sharks pull ahead of their pace), and the Red Wings had only one win in an eleven-game stretch starting in game 56 (not on this graph). Will the Sharks avoid that sort of multi-injury stretch this season, or will they try to copy the pattern (or worst yet, will they save their slump for the postseason)?
In terms of goal differential through regulation, the Sharks did pace these three teams through games 20-30, but a certain 6-0 loss to this year's Wings pushed them back behind the curve. Still, they've been keeping pace nicely with the comparison Cup winners. Again, you can see the point where the injured Ducks fell off for eleven games.
At any rate, I thought it was a somewhat interesting comparison (and I definitely trust regulation hockey more as a barometer for postseason success than OT or SO). We're getting near the point where sniff tests won't matter much, though. Outpacing previous cup winners is nice; winning a cup is something else entirely. Should be even more interesting to see where this Sharks team ends up this spring, and whether they get to be included in next season's sniff tests.