Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reflecting On A Season: by MyMcLife

I saw this last night. I have a lot to say about the end of the season, but I think MyMcLife (of Fear the Fin fame) does a great job of summing up a lot of what I'd like to say, with more eloquence and an appropriate dash of profanity.

I am an optimist by nature. It really sucks sometimes, having that rug of hope pulled out from under you. After the second period tonight, I pulled out my pessimist hat and expected the team to lose. Not because I wanted them to, but because of that whole self-preservation thing. I sometimes take losses way too hard. So that’s why, after this game, I’m a bit more level-headed than I normally would be. That, and I swore up a storm when Corey Fucking Perry scored and got a lot of my anger out there.

We came into the playoffs with a whole lot of expectations, expectations that I’m not quite sure were earned. A rookie head coach was brought in, with his completely new offense-based system. The Sharks have been operating under a defense-based system under the Ron Wilson years, so the new style of play was completely different. They didn’t know how to use the system when the offense wasn’t clicking, when there were 9 guys out with injuries, when it seemed like nothing was going their way. And McLellan, for all of his experience being an assistant coach with Detroit, was still trying to learn how to change up the system a bit to get the Sharks rolling again, as well as how to utilize all the players with their difference strengths.

Admit it – we were spoiled in the 2008 portion of the season, when it seemed like the Sharks could never lose unless go up against a hot goaltender. All that talk about NHL records and the possibility of a Stanley Cup really got into our heads – or at least it did into mine. At that point, we were on the top of the world – had yet to lose in regulation at home, lost maybe 4 games in regulation, could score goals like there was no tomorrow, etc. The Sharks came back to earth, and yet we were still high on the first part of the season, back when no team really understood that yes, it was the Sharks that had that high-powered offense.

And as for more positives – Marleau really shined this year. He slowed at the end, but he really bounced back from last season and showed why he was the #2 overall pick in the 1997 draft. Setoguchi emerged as a legit goal scorer in the first half of the season, and in the second half showed a reckless abandon dedicated to hitting everything that moved. Not a bad guy to have on the team. The entire second line (Michalek-Pavelski-Clowe, if anybody has yet to have it memorized by now) showed how deadly they were on both the power play and the penalty kill. Pavelski in particular has really emerged as a great defensive forward that scores clutch goals. And that entire line has defied all criticism from previous seasons and often showed up as the most physical line on the ice, getting into scrums and not taking shit from anybody. Boyle, after many doubting his value with regards to his $6.67 million/year for 6 years contract, made me wonder how we ever won without him. The Sharks/Wings game with the Sharks winning 6-5 was one of the greatest regular season games I have ever seen. And Staubitz provided me with my favorite fight of all time.

Oh, and we won the freaking President’s Trophy, giving variety to the banners hanging at the Tank. That was pretty nice, as well.

Yeah, we flamed out in the playoffs, but just remember – when Ron Wilson first took over as head coach, the Sharks missed the playoffs. The next season? Western Conference Finals. Do it.

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