A few thoughts from the San Jose/Vancouver series.
Dany Heatley is too slow to be able to produce when the tempo of the game gets as high as it does in the 3rd round of the NHL playoffs. Patrick Marleau has proven again he is not an impact player in important games. What San Jose does with these two contracts is a major conundrum, but what is clear is that the Sharks cant win the cup if they have to depend on these two players to be major cogs in the big Shark wheel.
While admirable that Joe Thornton played the final game of his season with a separated shoulder, the reality is he failed once again to lead his team over the hump. A great many players have endured his injury or worse so he is by no means alone with the wounded hero tag. He is a star player but does not deserve the superstar moniker until he can take over a series and lead his team to the cup. He will always get more credit that he has earned because he is a wonderful guy, easy to like and thus the media loves him, but it doesn't change the fact that to become one of the greats you have to be the central figure in leading your team to greatness. He appears to be on the Eric Lindros track. Unlimited ability but just cant get it done.
Nobody in the East knew who Douglas Murray was until this series and now everyone knows who he is. Murray is huge and plays a rugged, effective game. He is a star despite the fact he doesn't produce much offence. His shutdown and punishment abilities are at superstar levels.
Roberto Luongo is a very good goalie. Better than average. Better than above average. Better than good. After the final 2 games of this series you could say he is a star player, but still not a superstar. Nobody has been called the best goalie in the NHL for a longer period of time without actually winning anything and carrying his team to those victories. Haven't heard anyone say he carried Canada to the Gold. Maybe a cup win would lift him to superstar status. Maybe a few cup wins and you could start having the conversation about him being one of the greats like Roy and Brodeur. Despite all the fan and media hype he has not yet earned that and wont until production matches promise.
Ryan Kessler is a very very good player. Also one of (if not thee) worst (or best) divers and actors in the NHL. His ongoing display of embellishments in this years playoffs is impressive (or embarrassing) depending on your perspective. It is difficult to trust that any of his reactions are legitimate. If and when he is ever seriously injured, how will we know? What cant be faked is his superior talent and ferocious competitiveness.
After being MIA in parts of round #1 and #2, the Sedins were outstanding against San Jose. When they were on the ice, they often controlled the whole game. Like many high skill players they will have to endure the criticism of shying away from contact far too often, but nobody cares about that while you are holding the cup.
See you at the rink.