You can make all the excuses you want -- hot goalie, injuries, dumb luck, etc. -- but the bottom line is that this organization has yet to figure out how to win in the playoffs.
Over their history, San Jose has made one conference final (lost to Calgary in 2004). If they want to escape the doldrums of playoffs past, they need a better start than they got Wednesday. They fell 2-1 to No. 8 seed Colorado in the opening game of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Once again, home ice advantage for the Sharks is gone in 60 minutes.
Heading into these playoffs, the Sharks were the hungry, experienced team ready for a breakthrough. The Avalanche were happy to be there, and barely there at that, clinging on to the last playoff spot after controlling the Northwest Division for the first part of the season.
The young, spry Colorado team was supposed to fold under the playoff pressure. They were supposed to be worn down after fighting so hard to make the playoffs.
So why did San Jose look so tired and lifeless for much of the game?
At this point, after hearing about their playoff failures on virtually a daily basis, the Sharks are tight. They need something -- anything -- to loosen them up. No, this isn't to suggest a fight is in the works. It's to suggest that the Sharks have to find a way to stop the death-grip on their sticks.
This is a team that relies largely on a fast-moving style of play. It's hard to play fast when you're worried about losing.
It's also hard to play fast when the playoffs come around, and you don't take care of the puck in the neutral zone.
San Jose was guilty Wednesday. They were outworked, especially by the Colorado top line of Paul Stastny, Chris Stewart, and T.J. Galiardi. Those three combined for the game-winning goal in the final minute by having a great shift in the offensive zone.
Yes, Stewart got a lucky bounce off captain Rob Blake's skate. But they won three separate battles around the net and in the corner before Stewart had the chance to get the puck to the front of the net. It was there that Galiardi was engaged with Blake, fighting for position, when the puck glanced off the big defenseman's skate.
The story of the game may end up being Colorado not backing down in the face of intense pressure early in the game. The Sharks had the first six shots and some nice chances early, but goalie Craig Anderson -- who set a career high for minutes in the regular season -- continued to play at a high level. Anderson finished with 26 saves, 12 in the first period.
For San Jose, it's become all too familiar. Dominate in the regular season, then find a way to lose when the games matter most. It was somewhat understandable last year, as Anaheim was the type of team built for playoff success, even if they did struggle during the regular season. Losing to them wasn't terribly shameful.
No offense to Colorado, but this is unacceptable for the Sharks. Getting beaten by a hot team that plays great hockey is one thing, but you can never afford to get outworked and outhustled on home ice. That's what San Jose let happen Wednesday, and it's a big reason why they're staring at another 1-0 hole in a best-of-seven.