Another Dream Dies- The San Jose Sharks will miss the Stanley Cup Finals once again. Justin Williams scored both Los Angeles Kings goals while goalie Jonathan Quick made 27 saves as they outlasted the Sharks 2-1 in Game 7 of their 2013 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals Series. The Kings win the series 4 games to 3, sweeping all four games at the Staples Center holding the Sharks to just four goals in the four games. For the Sharks, even with the lockout shortened season the end of the season comes as swift and brutally as ever. The Sharks go 7-4 for the post season, however it was only good enough to last through the first round, not the second. The Sharks were never able to find their game in three of the four games at the Staples Center where they went 0-6 in 2013. The one time they did find their game back in Game 2, they still found themselves suffering a crushing defeat in that game as well. The Sharks now have a short but also long off season ahead. There are a lot of decisions to make regarding the franchises future under new majority owner Hasso Plattner, who has been very silent about the team since becoming the major at the end of January.
As a team the Sharks played their hearts out in this series and left it all out on the ice. The Kings were just slightly better at the end when it was all said and done. Unfortunately for the Sharks, that may be the only reason they the Kings are advancing, not team teal. The Sharks at home went 3-0 in this series and were 5-0 overall. They only lost two games in regulation at the Shark Tank all season, to Chicago on February 5th and Columbus on April 21st. The Sharks weathered a bad 23 game stretch in the middle of the schedule that tested their metal and makeup as a team. The Sharks would close out the regular season with an 11-2-1 run that got them the 6th seed in the west. This would extend to a first round sweep of the Vancouver Canucks. This carried the Sharks into the playoff series versus the Los Angeles Kings. The one thing the Sharks can take away is that they were not run out of the post season as they were last season against St Louis. However, the disappointment that comes from the series loss is brutally tough and something the Sharks will have to carry as a franchise as they now must move on into the future.
Game 7 Summary- The first period was by far and away the tightest period of the series with neither team really taking control of the game. The Sharks outshot the Kings 5-3 and held Los Angeles without a shot on goal in the final 10 minutes of the period. Two penalties were called, one on each team for the period. The penalties almost literally offset each other as Joe Thornton and Jeff Carter were called for high sticking within 21 seconds of each other starting at the 12:52 mark.
The second period is where things went south for the Sharks fast. An early interference penalty to Brent Burns as the Sharks were trying to establish an offensive presence in the Kings defensive zone began a sequence which would lead to the team teal downfall. Burns’ penalty put the Sharks on the penalty kill which was one of the main things they rode into the playoffs. However this time it would not hold up as Williams was able to stuff a puck underneath Sharks goalie Antti Niemi late in the power play. It looked at first as if Niemi had the rubber biscuit in his glove, however he really had control of it and Williams never quit on the play. Moments later Williams would make it 2-0 in favor of the Kings as the Sharks were caught on a bad line change. The Sharks got away with this early in the first period but would pay for it the second time around. The Sharks spent the rest of the period just trying to keep the game from getting out of hand. Niemi made a huge save on Williams later in the period to deny him the natural hat trick.
The third period saw the Sharks come out of the gate hard knowing their season only had 20 minutes left baring a huge comeback. Adam Burish drew an early penalty for a high stick on Quick in the Kings goal crease, however Quick was also called for embellishment creating a four on four situation. The Sharks despite the open ice were unable to take advantage. The Sharks got on the board at the 5:26 mark of the period when Dan Boyle drilled in a slap shot that beat a screened out Quick. The Sharks had the break they needed to get back into the game however would only find themselves playing a very frustrating cat and mouse game the rest of the period. Quick made his best saves of the period when he denied Logan Couture during the period, and late denying Pavelski point blank after he was able to get to the rebound of a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot on goal. Pavelski was not able to elevate the puck and his shot really didn’t have any chance at all. The Sharks did all they could in the third period, however “their all” as good as it was just wasn’t good enough. They were close. Close in this situation however is irrelevant once it’s over.
Shark Bytes- The Three Stars will be forgone here since they are not relevant with the season being over. The Kings won the series fair and square and like it or not they earned it, just as the Sharks would have had they won. The number one star of the season is the Sharks fans who have stuck with team teal in good times and bad. It is not an easy moment for any fan right now however the if the Stanley Cup playoffs can provide one life lesson it is this, “Life sometimes isn’t fair.” Only one team can win the Stanley Cup which means 15 others in the tournament will fall short of their goal. The Sharks are certainly not the only franchise who has had this happen before, nor are they the only franchise without a Cup. It may happen one day and if it does it will be the best moment in the franchises history and will be that much sweeter. Maybe it happens with this group, and maybe it happens with another group. Players like Logan Couture, Tommy Wingles, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl (Sharks 2012 first round draft choice) are the future of the franchise. I wont speculate on which players should be moved or who’s coming or going right now, way too early for that. However, the Sharks need to cut a few losses, the most obvious being Martin Havlat who just wasn’t there for this team hardly at all. His buyout must be the first order of business as soon as the NHL allows the Sharks to do so, even if they have to wait until the end of June.
Two Final Thoughts:
Final Thought I- First of all, Congrats to San Jose Sharks on a great season. The Sharks looked iffy at times during regular season but found a way to get to the post season. Once in the post season the Sharks showed great heart and fought down to the last man. Thank You for all of your efforts not only during the season and post season, but also your support of the fanbase during the lockout. The Sharks win or lose are always a class organization who realize their fanbase is one of the best in the NHL.
Final Thought II- Just something I had tweeted a few moments after the game ended… “As of 8:42pm PT (5/28/2013), Hasso Plattner, You are now on the clock. As you are majority owner of the Sharks, one question. Do You Want A Cup? Yes or No?” Plattner bought out several in the ownership group to become the majority owner of the team. This is on his watch now and there really is no way around that since he took majority control of the team earlier this year. Plattner certainly does not have to answer me, but he does have to answer to the aforementioned fan base and in particular the season ticket holders. The season ticket holders, Mr Plattner are in effect your share holders of this franchise. They are awaiting to hear from you. I hope your are approaching this as a sound businessman who wants to own this franchise for the right reasons and wants to see this franchise win a Stanley Cup. Your shareholders (season ticket holders) await your word. So does the entire San Jose Sharks fanbase. As the offseason begins, the ball is in your court. Please tell us you are here to win. Greatness stars at the top, and that’s where you, Mr. Plattner are sitting. Thanks…
…to be continued on the next “My Two Cents” column this weekend…
Next Sharks Game- October when the 2013-14 season begins…
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