San Jose Sharks End Detroit Red Wings' Season After Closest Playoff Series Ever

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIMay 13, 2011

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 12: Ruslan Salei #24 and Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings show their disapointment after losing 3 to 2 to the San Jose Sharks in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals  during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the HP Pavilion on May 12, 2011 in San Jose, California.(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Last night after the final whistle was blown to end Game 7 and the Shark Tank had erupted, my phone started to light up with texts from family and friends. 

Some messages were the "sorry about your Wings, yadda yadda" variety.  Others were explicative-filled expressions from those who were angry over the loss.

Reading over Facebook this morning, it seems that several people are despondent and meek due to Detroit being eliminated.

I guess I just don't understand why.

Because hot damn, that kind of hockey is why I am a fan to begin with.

Anyone who watched most of, if not all of these last seven hockey games should realize that they just witnessed some of the best playoff hockey that has been played. 


The frantic, kinetic, jarring pace to this series is the reason I watch hockey.  If any casual observer happened to be in a bar and caught bits and pieces of Game 7, I'd assume their sudden addiction to the game to be a given.

This was more than an instant classic.  This wasn't a final four buzzer beater, or a last minute charge up the field to win the Lombardi Trophy.  It was two equally matched teams giving each other their very best for 420 minutes, plus a little overtime tossed in for good measure.  This was a war between to uber-talented, determined hockey clubs.

In fact, this is the tightest NHL playoff series played in the history of the game.

The 2011 Western Conference Semifinals between Detroit and San Jose was the first time ever that six of the seven games were decided by one goal—if you take out Darren Helm's empty net goal in Game 6 and you have seven(!) games decided by a single tally. 

And that's why I don't see the shame in losing. 

I am proud of the Detroit Red Wings.  They didn't come out on top, and that is disappointing.  But they left everything they had out on the ice while they skated for most of Game 7 without two of their top six forwards, still managing to keep playing at an electric pace.

They didn't lose the game, or the series, due to a lack of effort.  They just lost.  Detroit didn't run out of answers for the Sharks.  They just ran out of time.  If periods were 22 minutes this series would have ended in overtime, because the Wings were buzzing as time expired.   

The Sharks played outstanding, rebounding from an ugly Game 6. 

The best players on both sides of the ice were just that.  I don't think I have ever seen Joe Thornton control a playoff game for stretches like he did.  He was monstrous.  Patrick Marleau is getting a lot of credit for his game winner, and he should.  But it was an insane Dan Boyle pass that made it happen.

Niemi and Howard both were on their heads at points, while Datsyuk and Zetterberg still has phasers set from stun to kill.  Clowe gutted this one out, playing on some kind of energy, while Setoguchi took advantage of his shadow in Todd Bertuzzi going missing with some clutch plays.

So the Sharks advance to their second straight Western Conference Finals.  Not too shabby for a team that has garnered the reputation as chokers.

The Vancouver Canucks await.  Seed No. 1 against seed No. 2.  This one should be full of fireworks as well.  It just will probably be a little more of a neighborhood level light show compared to what we just witnessed. 


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