Editor’s Note: Inspired by Andrew Sharp’s excellent #HotSportsTakes series at Grantland (R.I.P.), we will occasionally attempt to write the worst Sharks column on the internet. This is satire (or an attempt, at least), and should not be taken seriously.
Today’s topic: the Penguins’ will to win, and the Sharks’ lack thereof.
There’s an old adage in hockey which posits that sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. Like most of you, I fell asleep in philosophy class, so I don’t know who’s responsible for this widely accepted wisdom.
Whoever they are, they’re wrong.
Something must have been lost in translation, as one team during the Stanley Cup Playoffs has proven this isn’t the case. This bunch may not be Socratic, but they’ve certainly got a flair for the dramatic.
The Pittsburgh Penguins did not attempt a shot on goal for nearly 40 minutes last night. That is, until Jake Guentzel scored the game-winning goal late in the third period.
You see, these Pens have ripped up the conventional wisdom, and replaced it with their own: in order to be lucky, you have to be good.
Folks, some people might tell you the Penguins have not been good this postseason, and that they didn’t deserve to win last night.
That Nashville outplayed them, only to be let down by poor goaltending.
That if not for the heroics of Marc-Andre Fleury against Washington, they would have lost to a superior Capitals side two rounds ago.
They’ll make these claims under the false pretense of “analytics,” as if hockey games are won on a spreadsheet, and not on the ice.
But if the nerds looked up from their TI-84 calculators for a second and watched the game, what the Penguins did last night would have been clear as day.
Pittsburgh just has it, the supreme confidence of every game’s ultimate outcome being a Penguins win.
The Penguins, much like the salary cap era’s other dynasties in the Windy City and Tinseltown, know what it takes to bring home the trophy. They’re not the only teams to win multiple teams since 2005 because of the Hall of Fame talent, or the representatives from the NHL’s top 100 players of all time on each roster.
It’s their hunger. Their will becomes skill, and eventually, the unfailing knowledge of how to win hockey games.
It’s why Pittsburgh’s three games away from their fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history, despite getting outshot in 14 of their 20 playoff games.
And, it’s why the San Jose Sharks are watching from the couch. Again.
The Sharks actually outshot Edmonton in all but two of their six first round games. But San Jose only won half of them, and got bounced in the first round for the second time in the last four seasons.
You can’t say it was because of injuries, when the Penguins are in the Stanley Cup Final without their top defenseman and Logan Couture and Joe Thornton actually played.
You can’t say it was because of a lack of offense, when the Sharks outscored the Oilers 14-12 in the six-game series.
Face, it people: hockey’s a game of heroes and zeroes, and the Sharks have zero heroes.
Sure, the Melk Man delivered in Game 1. And yes, this team made it to the Stanley Cup final a season ago. But they’ve only made it out of their conference once with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton leading the way.
The Sharks could not have won the way the Penguins did last night, which is why this era of the franchise will end without any significant silverware. With their contracts set to expire at the beginning of July, it’s time to turn the page in the cookbook and rethink the recipe.
You can’t win a Stanley Cup without the will to win, just like you can’t make cookies without dough.
San Jose doesn’t have enough to make a serving. Pittsburgh? Well, they’ve got enough for five.
And maybe, even some leftovers.