I had only gone to Staples Center once prior and it was also a Sharks-Kings game. Of course, that time the game was in December so it was different and it was three years ago before the Kings became the Kings of hockey. The game tonight was Game 7. It was one of the best seven-game series hockey had to offer in recent years. This was what great hockey was about.
Knowing the Sharks, this season was going to be a struggle and this series wasn’t going to be easy. The Sharks were still trying to find their own identity. But as they tried to do so in this shortened season, they also had to win an important playoff game. It was a tough journey.
I could easily just say that Jonathan Quick was too good, but I won’t. He was good. But the Sharks didn’t challenge him enough. The shots on goal were too easy most times. Credit to the Kings for keeping the area in front of the net congested, but there were numerous times where the Sharks just didn’t give Quick a challenge.
I look at that Joe Pavelski almost goal late in the third. Had he not hesitated. Had he gone top shelf when Quick was scrambling on the ice. What ifs. Not enough.
The team is still a good team. They’re good enough to make the playoffs again with this roster. But they aren’t going to win the Cup. They won’t. Do they make the changes this offseason such as a rebuilding project? Do they blow up the roster? A coaching change? I’m not sure.
The window is closing on this team. They ran into a team they match up evenly against but the bigger sign is that they are a team without a real identity yet. They have young talent and veteran presence. But it hasn’t worked in the past few seasons. They can’t ride this anymore. At least I don’t think this team now is going to be a winning formula next year.
It’s still me thinking out loud and letting it sink in that I saw the Sharks season end in front of my eyes. I know this team can do it. They have the heart — they showed it tonight. But they just weren’t good enough. They don’t have the right players. Minor change? Major change? I’m not sure.
The disappointment remains and it will continue into the offseason. Time is ticking for the Sharks to find the right players and catch lightning in a bottle for a playoff run. I just hope it happens soon.
Back into the glass I go.