You know that thing that everyone was expecting to happen? You know, it usually happens before May 1st? The San Jose Sharks getting eliminated from the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Yeah, well it finally happened. After three rounds, 13 games, eight wins and seven losses the playoff exit finally happened.
And yet again, they're "choke artists."
But this year was a little different.
Granted, the Sharks went out in a very disappointing four games: the defensive coverage was soft, never really clearing out the front of their net, and Evgeni Nabokov didn't seem to save his best for last.
Then you had the fact that Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle were the only ones shouldering any of the load offensively. Going in to Game Four, Marleau had scored four of the team's five goals, and Boyle had assisted on ALL of them.
Yes Dany Heatley (rumored to be playing hurt) and Joe Thornton had just three points combined for the series. But there are 14 other players who should have fingers pointed to them for their production. And isn't this a team game anyhow?
With Marleau getting one of the two goals in Game Four, Logan Couture scored to give the Sharks three different goal scorers for the series. The Chicago Blackhawks had four different ones in the game .
Not only is it not fair to pin all of the offense on Marleau, but it's unfair to put all of the blame on Heatley and Thornton during an abbreviated exit.
But it's more than a series in which San Jose fell flat. In fairness to the Sharks, Chicago was the second-best team standings-wise in the Western Conference—two beating one isn't exactly that large of an upset , especially when Chicago had scored more goals (271 to 264) and allowed fewer (209 to 215) than San Jose on the year.
Would it have been nice to see the Sharks win one, two, or the series? Sure it would have. But it's not like they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.
And speaking of the Avalanche...how many people had them beating the Sharks outright before the series even started? And what about after that awkward goal that Boyle, Nabokov, and Ryan O'Reilly combined on in game three to give Colorado a 2-1 series lead?
Popular consensus had San Jose collapsing after that back-breaker.
But they didn't. And they didn't roll over against the Detroit Red Wings either. In fact, the Sharks handed the Wings their most-abrupt playoff exit since 2006, denying Detroit a fourth-straight conference finals.
So while everyone was saying they couldn't, the Sharks kept winning games.
Was a four-game sweep in the Conference Finals the way they wanted to go? No.
But raise your hand if you had given them that chance at the beginning of the playoffs.
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