The San Jose Sharks need look no further to see what they lack than the opening game of the Western Conference finals Sunday, May 18. The Chicago Blackhawks showed the mettle of a two-time Stanley Cup champion against the Pacific Division-winning Los Angeles Kings.
Chicago had a goal called off when the puck was at the very least on its way in when contact with the goalie took place. It could be argued that contact was actually a direct result of the defender's actions. Instead of deciding that it was going in or that contact was forced—either of which would have meant a 2-0 deficit for Los Angeles—the officials decided to rule incidental contact on the ice and thus it was non-reviewable.
The Kings proceeded to score a tying goal just over a minute later when Tyler Toffoli redirected a Tanner Pearson centering feed past Corey Crawford. When the Sharks were on the wrong end of a questionable call in the Pacific Division semifinals, two more goals were allowed in just over three minutes. When Chicago was in the same situation, it was able to buckle down to stop any further scores and then answer some six minutes later.
To cap off a solid third period, Chicago scored a late goal and closed the game out. San Jose does not close games with strong third periods when holding a lead. That is why Los Angeles has won two consecutive Stanley Cup playoff series over the Pacific Division rivals.
In fact, the Sharks have repeatedly failed to respond to adversity during the Stanley Cup playoffs under Doug Wilson's tenure as general manager. He admitted that the team beat itself in a conference call reported on by David Pollack Friday. Chicago would not do that because they have leadership that demands more of itself and its teammates.
Unfortunately, Wilson hitched his wagon for the next three seasons to two veterans in January that have been captain over four teams lacking both of the above championship characteristics Chicago showed. The photo list shows the failings of those eight teams led by either Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton.