Wow. Just Wow. Part II
It was pretty obvious that Chicago was able to succeed by relying on its youthful corps of players. The stars of the Hawks are in their 20s while the Sharks key players are in their 30s. This late in the playoffs, the younger, healthier team will advance most of the time, and that seemed to be the case here. Chicago seemed like a team on the rise a few years ago and now it seems likely they will win the Cup once the eastern finals is over.
So where does this leave San Jose? With Marleau and Nabokov free agents this offseason and Blake considering retirement, this team will have a different look this fall. Doug Wilson will have some tough choices to make as he will have to deal with salary cap issues if he wants to keep this group of guys. The main issue still seems to be defense, as the Sharks could use another solid blueliner to compliment Dan Boyle (who should be the next captain if Blake retires). Nabokov is starting to show some ware from being a workhorse all those years and I think his best days are behind him.
I was excited to see Joe Pavelski emerge as a threat in the Colorado series, but he faded down the stretch and didn’t score at all in the Chicago series. Along with Devin Setoguchi, they are the future of the franchise. After them, there isn’t much young blood on this team; perhaps its time to unload Thornton for some younger guys and start building for the future.
I am having a hard time deciding if this season is considered another disappointment. I can see both sides, but I am leaning towards no. As opposed to losing to an inferior team (like Anaheim last year), Chicago is clearly the best team in the west and while a sweep is embarrassing, it isn’t heart-wrenching like previous years. The Detroit series would have been the opportunity to choke, and the Sharks found a way to pull together and win. It doesn’t seem like much consolation now, but maybe San Jose can enter next year’s playoffs without the underachiever label around their necks. But what stings the most is it appears this series was the de facto cup finals, as now Chicago has an easy road to the championship.
By the way, I promised Tracy I wouldn't grow a playoff beard next year in advance of our wedding. So no new pictures like the one below next year; hopefully, their luck will finally change (but I doubt it).
Photo: Watching the Sharks get swept was a little upsetting