May 17, 2010, 4:50 PM EDT
The San Jose Sharks might have lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 yesterday, but they showed plenty of energy and put 45 shots on Antti Niemi. It would be silly if the team was in a state of chaos and panic after losing a game they played so well.
That being said, every game in the Western Conference finals is a big one. It is probably fair, then, that Cam Inman of the Mercury News blasted the team for taking the loss a little too much in stride.
Ho hum, another Game 1 defeat. They’ll get ‘em next time. These things happen. No biggie. They played well, just not well enough to outscore their opponent.
Such dismissals are embarrassing. These are not just games on the ledger. These are the Stanley Cup playoff semifinals, if that is what they call this seemingly crucial stage.
The Sharks’ only other trip to the conference finals, in 2004, also started with a Game 1 home defeat. Then came a Game 2 home defeat, followed by two road wins, a Game 5 home defeat and a Game 6 exit against the Calgary Flames.
A couple years later, the Sharks changed their logo. They should do so again. Instead of an angry shark chomping a stick, the new one might as well be a cute sea horse biting its lip.
Harsh, but fair? It’s hard to imagine that Niemi will be able to perform on that Game 1 level for a lot longer, but the Chicago Blackhawks are capable of putting up a lot of offense on any given night too. With a team as strong as Chicago, any time you outplay them yet don’t come away with a victory, it hurts even worse than if that happened with … say, the Colorado Avalanche.
That being said, it’s only one game. If the tiny margin of error in Game 1 is any indication, this could be a long series. Now, if the Sharks go down 0-2 at home, it might be time to hit the panic button.
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