Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Same old song for eliminated Sharks

Categories: San Jose Sharks, VAN vs. SJS, Vancouver Canucks

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The San Jose Sharks came up one series short of the final yet again. (Rich Lam/Getty Images) The San Jose Sharks came up one series short of the final yet again. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
It ended as it always does with the San Jose Sharks: with a heroic backs-against-the-wall performance made galling by the fact that their backs were against the wall by their own insistence.

The 3-2 double overtime loss to Vancouver in Game 5 of their Western Conference final came on a bit of a lucky goal by Kevin Bieksa.

Alexander Edler's attempt to throw the puck behind the net failed, as it struck a stanchion and ricocheted back to Bieksa near the "O" in "Stanley Cup Playoffs," allowing him to send a bouncing puck past goalie Antti Niemi who, like everyone else on the ice, was following the flight of the puck as it was supposed to be located.

But the loss came after the Sharks had played less than their best in earlier games, and while Vancouver was clearly the superior team and might have won in quick order anyway, the Sharks will have a summer's worth of rehabilitation and recriminations work on.

"I'll tell them I'm proud of them," head coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought they competed extremely hard. I'll tell them I thought they were a better team than we were in the series. We started to show [the Sharks at their best] in the end of the series.

"I'll tell them we have a tough task ahead of us. First of all, we're going to get healthy, we're going to rest over the summer, we're going to get our butts back to training camp where we're going to work ourselves right back to this spot again.

"We've learned a lot of lessons along the way. We've grown as a team. In my opinion, there's absolutely no reason why we can't be an elite team again next year, as we were the last three, four, five years. We expect to be there. That's the standard we live by. I said earlier, our task ahead of us is to get our asses back here in the conference finals and make good on it."

San Jose was the better team in Game 5, getting off 56 shots at Roberto Luongo despite the separated shoulder that stilled Joe Thornton's game, though not his will.

Nevertheless, the Sharks didn't do enough earlier in the series, and wasted too much effort against Los Angeles and Detroit to be as fresh as they needed to be against the best team in the West.
"The L.A. series was a very physical series for us, hard fought six games," McLellan said. "[It] took its toll. We have a lot of guys bumped and bruised and injured. Ryane Clowe played injured the whole playoffs. He'll need to be repaired.

But the Detroit series did take a lot out of us. When you look at Game 1, I thought fatigue was our biggest factor in that game. You can attribute that to the team in Detroit taking a little bit of our juice away from us, if you will."

Vancouver, though, did the rest, especially the Henrik Sedin-Daniel Sedin-Alex Burrows line, which was on the ice for each of the last seven and nine of the last 10 Vancouver goals in the series.

The right team won, the right result was achieved, but back in California, the burn has just begun.

"It sucks, it really does," centre Logan Couture said. "Maybe we did deserve better. We did play good in a couple of games in this series, but it doesn't matter. They're going on, and we're not, and that sucks."


Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Logan Couture
Ryane Clowe-Joe Pavelski-Devin Setoguchi
Kyle Wellwood-Torrey Mitchell-Dany Heatley
Jamie McGinn-Andrew Desjardins-Jamal Mayers

Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Kent Huskins-Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Niclas Wallin-Ian White

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki