2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Top 5 Reasons San Jose Sharks Are Done

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2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Top 5 Reasons San Jose Sharks Are Done
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Joe Pavelski was always reliable for points and faceoff wins, but has struggled at both in the first round

In the wake of Thursday's 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, the San Jose Sharks face their second consecutive 3-1 series deficit.

I fully expect to be shaving not only my beard but my head tonight. That is my response to winning only one game in the playoffs.

There are all sorts of statistical reasons this series is over. Coming back from 3-1 is almost as rare as coming back from 3-0. But the reality is that it's because most of those teams are better.

But the real reasons the Sharks cannot comeback are the same reasons they are in the hole right now.

Is it because the Sharks lack fire? This is the complaint I have had for years, earning a reputation as the most pessimistic Sharks writer on this site.

All I can say is pessimism is about to be 8-0. (I will only be 7-1 as I picked the Sharks to win the Western Conference in 2009.) Their lack of consistent effort was highlighted this season, as the team had three 15-game runs of at least 10 wins and .700 hockey, including one to end the season, but were just 11-22-4 in the rest of the season.

But effort is not the problem in this series. The Sharks have made adjustments in their game to counter the dominance of the Blues in the regular season.

One of the best statistics to showcase effort is hits. San Jose has become a hitting force, delivering a whopping 10.5 per game more than they had through the same number of games vs. St. Louis in the regular season. That represents a 56.8 percent increase, while the Blues hitting is up just 15.1 percent.

There are mitigating circumstances to the hit total increase. Some of them are even other "hustle statistics" in the negative. But you do not get numbers in that kind of increase unless your players are skating hard.

Moreover, there are many other indicators of effort for San Jose: shot attempts and shots on goal are up and they have scored five of their seven goals in the final 5:16 of regulation or OT. Giveaways are up only one, despite more than one additional period, and takeaways are almost doubled (33 vs.17 in regular season).

If the Sharks were better than the Blues, I would still believe in them as Jamie Baker of the Sharks PR firm Remenda, Hahn, Reiss and Baker stated he does after the game. But there is the simple reason the Blues have dominated the Sharks thus far (seven wins and one double-OT loss in eight games): They are just plain better.

A perfect effort gives the more wily, veteran Sharks a chance. But five key areas of their game have let them down in this series, any one of which could have made the difference in the series being 2-2 or even 3-1 in the Sharks favour...

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