sharks playoff postmortem

I must admit I’m not happy writing the word “postmortem”. But here we are.

The injury reports are coming in. So far, to the surprise of nobody, Thornton played tonight with a separated shoulder. Can we please put the soft reputation to bed once and for all? What a warrior.

Also, Ryan Clowe played hurt the entire season, and I’ve heard intimations surgery will be necessary but no details yet.

I’m waiting to hear how Heatley was hurt; I’m guessing a pretty bad groin given his lack of power and speed. He gutted it through, too. and I’m wondering whether Setoguchi was playing hurt. I’m sure there are others, but those seemed obviously dinged to me.

We got a “let the boys play” reffing game tonight, especially late and in overtime. The good news is that neither team abused that and focused on playing hockey, but both teams benefitted from non-calls. People who want to whine about the missed icing call that led to the 20 minute goal and overtime should go look at the tape of the Ian White blatant trip that stopped a clear scoring chance that was building. The sharks really benefitted from the reffing tonight, to be honest, and they had opportunities to prevent that goal. Calls happen. Good teams rise to them.

The fact is, the sharks did not deserve to win this series but did deserve to win this game — and didn’t. Luongo was insanely good most of the game, especially early on those first power plays, and gave the Canucks the chance to win. The Sharks had clear chances to win this game, and didn’t. And ultimately it was lost by a faceoff loss, bad coverate that led to the game tying goal, and a bad bounce. None of that involves refs.

And if the sharks took care of their business better, this game would have been over before the canucks got the bounce. So it goes.

The primary cause of the loss of this series was — the Detroit Red Wings. This sharks team was worn out and tired, and the Canucks were a little fresher and a little better.

So the Sharks fall short again, and congrats to the Canucks. If there’s any team i’m not unhappy to lose to, it’s them. they’re damn good.

So, now what?

well, frist up, the offseason.

I expect changes in the team and organization after this loss. This is not a team that you can look at and say “if we keep it together, we’ll be better next year” — there are some fundamental issues that (as good as this team is, and it’s one of four left playing!) aren’t going to be solved without changes.

The thing most disturbing to me is consistency. This team plays amazingly well with its back against the wall; it doesn’t play that well consistently until its back is against the wall. It squeaked out of the detroit series that way, it’s now going home to golf on a crazy bounce with Vancouver. Say what you will, that has to be fixed. The main difference between the sharks and canucks (or the sharks and the wings) is that consistency. Some might call it killer instinct, but more, it’s mental toughness. This year’s team is a lot tougher mentaly than  last year’s — but not tough enough, and that won’t change by giving them another year to mature.

So expect some restructuring.

Players on my keeper list: Boyle, Demers, Murray, Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Clowe, Couture, Pavelski, Niemi. That’s a pretty damn deep list if you think about it.

Guys I like (but if we need to, we need to): Vlasic, White, Mitchell, Nitymaki.

Guys I’m on the fence over: Setoguchi,  Wallin.

Guys to look to upgrade: Huskins, Mayers.

Also on my keeper list: doug wilson and coach McLellan. I’ll leave the staff to those two to sort out, but these are the guys I want defining this team. This team is VERY close. It’s not there, but it’s very close. We don’t need to blow up,we just need to find the next piece or two.

I read a suggestion today that the sharks should go after Raffi Torres, if only to put him in a position where he can’t hurt sharks any more. I like the idea, and not just for that. He plays like a bastard, but this team could use a bastard on the third line.

Close, but no cigar. Good, but not good enough. Not a situation where I would stand pat and expect it to get better next year. Improve the core and character, but don’t massively restructure.

Trade one of the big players? I think it’s possible. I have a hard time seeing how that makes us better, it just makes us different. Is that a good thing? I’m unconvinced. But if you only swap the depth players, can you really make a change that matters? That’s the challenge for Wilson.

So now, if you don’t mind, I’m going ot go off and root for the canucks. I like the team and the players and the organization, and if the team that beats the sharks wins the cup, that removes a bit of the sting….