Any analysis looking at the Sharks these days usually mentions a window. And wonders whether it's closing. Or maybe already shut.

The question isn't a new one, but as the NHL begins it's lockout-delayed season Saturday and San Jose plays its first game Sunday, it's one being raised more frequently.

ESPN'S Pierre LeBrun wrote about the Sharks' window closing last spring, and his view hasn't changed. Bob McKenzie of TSN notes, "You know what they say, if you're not getting better you're getting worse, so I would say the window is in the process of closing on San Jose, but I wouldn't count them out just yet."

McKenzie's TSN colleague, former player Ray Ferraro, takes it a step further: That window is down. "They lose in the playoffs last year to St. Louis and then St. Louis gets steamrolled by Los Angeles," he said. "Los Angeles isn't getting worse."

The players that the team has been built around for the last five years aren't necessarily over any hills -- Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are 33, Dan Boyle is 36 -- but the team's record has been steadily declining since hitting a 117-point peak in 2008-09. After finishing as the Western Conference's first or second seed in the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, San Jose dropped to seventh in 2011-12.

Now even NHL.com opens its assessment of the Sharks with that same question.