Wednesday, May 25, 2011

San Jose Sharks: The Western Conference Finals Is Not Enough

It took an awkward bounce off the boards, and not a single Sharks player to know where the puck was, for the San Jose Sharks to be eliminated from the 2011 NHL Playoffs on Tuesday night.

The Vancouver Canucks were the dominant team. In fact, the Canucks are probably the best team left in these playoffs, and you may not hear an argument from anyone refuting that. They have speed, defense, goaltending and chemistry, and the Sharks were just trying to keep up.

San Jose was knocked out by the best team in hockey.

Are you satisfied with the Sharks, though?

I wrote an article on my own personal blog around this time last year where I said that I was satisfied with the Sharks appearance in the 2010 Western Conference Finals, even though they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

I was satisfied last season because they had overcome several demons in that 2009-10 season. They had just come off a series in the 2009 playoffs where they lost in the first round to the Anaheim Ducks, after earning the President's Cup trophy for the regular season as the number one overall seed.

This season was a different story.

The Sharks had risen above it all in 2010, beating the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings, before losing in the Western Conference Finals.

Now in 2011, the team from the South Bay has been defeated again in the Western Conference Finals. They did not lose by lack of talent, though. They were defeated by losing their cool in Game 2, dumb penalties in Game 4 and one of the weirdest endings to a playoff game you will ever see in Game 5.

This Sharks/Canucks series could have been so much more. In the end, the Canucks were the more professional team and now head to the Stanley Cup Finals, something the Sharks have never been able to do.

No, the Western Conference Finals is not enough, not anymore.

The 2010 season was the start of something, and the 2011 team was showing so much grit, passion and dominance that they were a lock to make a deep run the playoffs. The run was not deep enough.

The question needs to be asked: Is the core of players the Sharks have now ever going to get this team to the Stanley Cup Finals?

That is GM Doug Wilson's question to answer.

The Sharks will be back, though.

They have a nice mix of young talent and experienced leaders to make another run -- they always do.

The increased salary cap may help, too. It will give them a chance to go out and get the defenseman they so desperately need.

Besides all that, this 2010-11 Sharks team entertained us, while showing pride, talent and determination. For another year, though, that was not enough.

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