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Win or Lose, Playing Together

Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 11:52 AM / News
By Jonathan Okanes  - Staff Writer
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Win or Lose, Playing Together
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The Sharks may not have gone as far as they would have liked this season, but they did discover something about themselves that can only help in their future efforts to win the Stanley Cup.

The power of playing for the guy at the locker next to yours can take a team a long way.

San Jose’s season came to an end Tuesday night with a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Sharks actually played some of their best hockey of the postseason in Game 7, including an inspired third period in which they peppered Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with pressure but simply couldn’t break through with the tying goal.

Hockey can be humbling, especially when you outplay an opponent but the other team’s goaltender renders that meaningless. That was the case for most of Game 7.

But even though it was a loss, the Sharks at least know they played at an extremely high level at times. And much of that performance is produced by an unfiltered sense of team, a chemistry and cohesiveness that manifests itself in elite play on the ice.

“We’re in transition a little bit as an organization with some of the moves we made,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “But I thought the way they banded together and the way they played for each other and with each other was exceptional. It was a really positive sign for our organization, not only in the playoffs but moving forward. It’s not about one or two guys. It’s about the group as a whole, and they accepted that. I think we have something to build on moving forward.”

The Sharks appeared to be at peace with the moment from the outset Tuesday. They were playing in a Game 7 in a building where the hosts hadn’t lost in 13 straight games. But San Jose played loose and skated fast.

The Sharks weren’t uptight even in the most pressure-induced situation. San Jose kept its locker room free and jovial throughout, oftentimes staging pregame soccer challenges to get ready for the puck to drop.

“We had a lot of fun, especially toward the end,” Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. “Guys enjoyed it. There were a lot of good times from the season. It’s just so difficult when it ends like this, especially when you have the chance at the end.”

It was hard to see past the disappointment and see that fun Tuesday. The Sharks were frustrated that their superior effort – they outplayed the Kings for most of the night – not only went by the wayside, but that their season had come to an abrupt close. They won’t be able to play with each other until the fall now, and those pregame soccer showdowns are now on hold for a while.

“We were having so much fun, it’s just disappointing that it has to end,” Sharks center Joe Thornton said. “We were really enjoying this. It’s just a tough way to finish.”

The end of the season always provides a sting, but you get the sense it may hurt just a bit more this time for this close group of Sharks. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was asked how long it will take for the team to get over the season-ending loss.

“When does the season start again?” he said.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 47 31 10 6 139 124 68
2 NSH 45 30 10 5 137 104 65
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 48 26 14 8 135 117 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 45 26 16 3 124 114 55
8 CGY 47 25 19 3 136 125 53
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 48 20 18 10 125 137 50
11 DAL 46 21 18 7 144 151 49
12 MIN 46 20 20 6 128 137 46
13 ARI 46 16 25 5 105 156 37
14 EDM 47 12 26 9 109 158 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 48 24 18 10 42
L. Couture 48 18 24 2 42
J. Thornton 44 10 27 0 37
B. Burns 48 11 24 -6 35
P. Marleau 48 9 24 -10 33
T. Wingels 47 11 14 -2 25
J. Braun 47 1 18 4 19
T. Hertl 48 8 9 -2 17
M. Vlasic 47 6 10 13 16
J. Sheppard 42 4 9 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 19 11 5 .912 2.57
A. Stalock 5 5 1 .905 2.65
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