The San Jose Sharks needed five games to take down the Detroit Wings.
That's right, the San Jose Sharks won the series, and yes, it took just five games. Do you believe in mild-upsets? Yes!
For the San Jose Sharks, for Joe Thornton, for Patrick Marleau, and for Sharks fans everywhere, the series win lifts a big monkey off their backs. This is not the Sharks first adventure into the Western Conference Finals. In fact, it looks eerily similar to the last one.
Back in 2003-2004, Vincent Damphousse was a regular season whipping boy. He looked a slow, washed up, waste of a roster spot. He took ticky-tacky hooking, holding and tripping penalties. Yet, despite all the negatives Damphousse endured in the regular season, then coach Ron Wilson and General Manager Doug Wilson had faith in their man.
Damphousse rewarded that faith, providing much needed scoring, solid defensive play, and great locker room leadership to a Sharks team that everyone counted out.
Sound familiar? It should.
Captain Rob Blake took verbal beatings, from fans and media members, for being too slow, for taking silly penalties and for being a wasted roster spot during the regular season.
Oh, but look at him now.
Blake is the unquestionable leader of a team headed for the Western Conference Finals. He's been a steady, calming influence both on the ice and in the locker room. His hip-checks have damaged Avalanche and Red Wing players, and he is getting his once deadly slap shot through from the point.
2004 saw the emergence of a young leader in Patrick Marleau. Marleau lead the team in playoff scoring. He was the spark plug that launched the Sharks into the third round of the playoffs.
Today, we see Joe Pavelski doing the same thing.
Pavelski, is the future captain of this Sharks team, much like Marleau was the future back then. Pavelski has been the Sharks best player throughout the playoffs. He is the best two-way forward left in the playoffs and is a future Selke nominee.
Rookie Marcel Goc scored a series clinching goal against the Colorado Avalanche in 2004. The goal sealed his fate as a rising star within the Sharks organization. While he played for the Sharks until this past season, Goc never regained the promise he once displayed. Logan Couture has come through in a big way these playoffs. He's a lock for a roster spot next season. Coture's postseason goals have come at crucial times in the first two series.
Grizzly veteran center Mike Ricci and center Mark Smith centered the third and fouth lines for the Sharks back then. They were solid defensively and in the face-off circle.
Centers Scott Nichol and Manny Malhotra have dominated on face-offs and are about as solid as they come, defensively. Nichol shows the same grit that Smith did, and Malhotra provides Ricci's level of experience and work ethic. And Nabokov is channeling his 2004 self.
The 2010 Sharks are much more skilled than the 2004 team, but their success is not a big secret.