It wasn’t supposed to end like this for the top seeded San Jose Sharks or their fans. Would even a first round exit have been preferable to an embarrassing sweep in the Western Conference finals? Today’s 4-2 come-from-behind win for the Blackhawks is another chapter in an increasingly futile book about a team that refuses to play to its potential. Hear that sound? That’s laptop keyboards across Northern California taking abuse as sports writers, discouraged fans and Tweeters let out their frustrations.
Even the Chicago wind is beating us here in the Bay Area. A chilly breeze has been taunting us continually for two days as if to say: We don’t need no stinkin’ California sun. Smell the glove!
That the Blackhaws would win the series is not unthinkable. They were the number two seed, and are extremely talented. Even more potent is their momentum; firing on all cylinders is an understatement. But, a sweep? Really. Really!? Sadly, yes, really. The probabilities must be staggering. Maybe DeNiro wasn’t talking about casino slots after all. It could not happen. Should not happen. Would not happen. And yet, it did. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The Eastern Finals are far more bizarre and unpredictable, with eighth seed Montreal a french Cinderella story.
Are the Sharks that bad, or the Blackhawks that good?
Let me get to that in a sec, but first a confession:
I did not watch the game. It happens. From time-to-time I must prioritize other parts of what we do here on SSC—like covering theater and arts—over my beloved Sharks. So there I sat, on a mountain top, just north of San Francisco in an ampitheater, just a few miles from Sharon Stone’s beach house in Basic Instinct, watching Guys and Dolls (no one on my hockey teams at Logitech Ice needs to know). When I pulled up SportsTap on trusty Droid, I saw the Sharks had taken a 1-0 lead thanks to Logan Couture. Aha, I thought, this result will be different thanks to the famed Ottawa 67s connection! Then it was 2-0. By the time the sinners were rounded up on stage, Chicago had climbed back into it. Later everyone started confessing… I though the entire Sharks team needed to be down there, spilling their guts: Sorry I lolligagged. When are we going to win the cup… how about the 12th of never? Hockey is one big craps game, and the Blackhawks are using loaded dice.
Missing the fourth game sounded like a good idea. If the Sharks won, then I’d live to see another game. If they lost, then I’d be spared the agony of the sweep.
On this day, though, the best team won. And the Chicago Blackhawks proved they are a great team. While I think there are a lot of questions for the Sharks (why didn’t McLellan change the game plan more aggressively when down 2-0 in the series? Why not skate the younger, hungrier guys like McGinn and Couture more? Where was Heatley? Why is Nabokov not a big game performer anymore? Is it time for Rob Blake to hang them up?), the reason they lost is because Chicago is a phenomenal team.
Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews are all young talented players. I have a sweet spot for Toews. He’s played brilliantly for Team Canada on many occasions. I remember celebrating many-a-pre-NHL goal that he scored for my home country. You don’t forget things like that.
Plus they’re an Original Six team. And if the Sharks were going to lose, I can’t think of a better opponent.
My dream match up now is Chicago and Montreal. An all Original Six final. It would be fantastic, although not so sure it would help the NHL ratings on the West coast or in the South here in the U.S. I would no doubt be pulling for Montreal. My heart belongs to most Canadian teams, especially les Canadiens. I grew up watching them on Quatre Saisons in French when the Leafs weren’t playing. Ottawa didn’t have an NHL team then. Now, the story lines are irresistible: P.K. Subban (another Team Canada stalwart) stepping in dramatically for an injured Markov. Halak putting up game-after-game of a lifetime.
I’ve enjoyed writing about the Sharks during the NHL playoffs. I wished the ride could have continued. I may chime in here and there on the rest of the Stanley Cup finals, especially if Montreal has a role. Otherwise thanks for reading Stark on the Sharks.
There’s always next year… and I hope to see you again here on StarkSilverCreek for another series. I absolutely refuse to believe the San Jose Sharks will not win the cup in my lifetime. It should happen. It must happen. And it will happen.