Sharks' stars just don't have 'it' 

May, 11, 2011

The NHL Experts blog is a collaboration of voices from around and inside the game of hockey. With viewpoints ranging from the press box to the front office, the Experts blog will offer unique perspectives for the duration of the NHL playoffs to keep readers informed of significant storylines in all aspects of the game.

It wouldn't have been fair if somehow Logan Couture's goal four minutes into the third period had stood up as the game-winner. There are goals that are scored and then there are goals, like Couture's, that are scored against all reason. The San Jose Sharks had no business being in the game last night, never mind being in a position to close out the series.

It wouldn't have been fair if San Jose, thoroughly outplayed for 40 minutes, trailing in shots on goal 32-13 through 40 minutes, had eliminated the Detroit Red Wings the other night. Can you actually win a series in a game where you don't win a single shift in the decisive game? I only ask because San Jose didn't, and yet the Sharks were 16 minutes from advancing to the Western Conference finals. Sharks coach Todd McLellan's postgame estimate was right. "Only one team skated," he said.

It's not that a lot of people in hockey question the heart of the core players in the Sharks' lineup, namely Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley -- it's that they don't bother questioning something that they're certain doesn't exist. You look at those three and say "players" and not "winners."

Gare Joyce is a contributing writer for ESPN The Magazine.