THE SANTA CLARA
May 8, 2014
Hurry! Someone do the Heimlich maneuver, the San Jose Sharks are choking! Too late. San Jose was once again eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last week.
This year, however, the blow seemed far more devastating compared to past seasons. After taking a wide 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series, the Sharks were expected and favored to go on to the next round. They had nearly swept the Los Angeles Kings, but, as is often expected, they proved unable to perform under critical circumstances and eventually lost the decisive Game 7 by an embarrassing score of 5-1.
I’ve been a Sharks fan for as long as I can remember, and I must say I’m disappointed, frustrated and irritated with this recent debacle. The Sharks are victims of a pattern that seems to have no end. They play magnificently during the regular season, but are among the first teams eliminated come playoff time.
The Sharks finished second in the Pacific Division this season but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Last season, the Sharks finished third in the Pacific and were eliminated by the Kings in the Conference Semifinals. The year before that, they were second in the Pacific and were also eliminated in the first round. As is evident, the Sharks are disappointingly eliminated prematurely year in and year out.
It would be unfair on my part not to give credit to the stellar seasons the Sharks have had in the last decade.
But San Jose hasn’t proven that it has the capacity to transcend and perform when needed.
The team’s inability to do well in the playoffs makes me question whether the Sharks have the proper players to get the job done. Other squads would give anything to have the talent that the Sharks have. Star players such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle are amongst the best players in the NHL, but they are flawed in one key way: they disappear during the playoffs.
This becomes problematic for the Sharks because they then depend on other skaters who perhaps do not have the same experience or talent as their key players. The inevitable result is elimination.
The Sharks are under a tremendous amount of pressure. For many years, hockey analysts and the media have labeled the Sharks as Stanley Cup favorites. Their own fans expect nothing less. By being unable to obtain their goal, the pressure continues to grow and hurts them come playoff time.
Perhaps I’m contributing to this existing pressure currently on the squad, but I also have confidence in San Jose. I know that they are an elite team. Now, they just need to prove themselves.
Ivan Munoz is a junior political science and English double major.