San Jose Sharks: How The West ‘Was’ And ‘Was Not’ Won
What seemed painfully obvious for most of this hockey season became a reality as the San Jose Sharks not only exited the playoffs but did so in a fashion consistent with their play over 82 regular season games. I’m not the only one who had very low expectations heading into the playoffs - expectations that seemed to get lower and lower as the season unfolded. We tried to keep a positive attitude but it was very clear for a very long time - this season’s team didn’t have the depth or strength to dominate any of the top teams in the NHL.
I’ve speculated all year that the two previous runs deep into the playoffs took a physical toll on the team and that for the most part the team was never healthy. I know that playing through injury is a part of professional sports, but there’s a difference between playing hurt and playing injured. Hopefully the next few days will reveal just how injured this team was.
The other problem has been the inability to kill penalties. I believe it started with the loss of Mike Grier, continued with the loss of Rob Blake and the final straw - losing Scott Nichol. We’ve gone an entire season and have not shown any improvement on the special team’s weakness that doomed us against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Western Conference Finals.
And if you go back to those finals, the Sharks have won 2 out of their last 10 playoff games.
But misery DOES love company. Also eliminated from the first round of this years playoffs are the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and the aforementioned Canucks. I think it’s safe to say that there is more than one new sheriff in town and that is how the west will be won.