Look, for all intents and purposes, the score was 3-2... Thornton's goal in the 3rd was just a lucky carom off his skate, and the empty-netter with seconds left wouldn't have gone in if we hadn't pulled Thomas. I was very unnerved by the fact that San Jose outskated the shit out of us in the second half of the third, but remember you this: The Sharks are the Angels of hockey. They rack up wins in the regular season, in part thanks to their pushover division, and biiiiiitch out in the playoffs. I'm far from willing to say they're a substantially better team than Detroit this year -- especially with Detroit hot on their heels in the Western Conference standings -- and we did beat the Red Wings 4-1 earlier this year.
So, I don't think it's fair to say we're "not ready to compete with the best of the Western Conference." To be fair, there's definitely cause for concern with our inter-conference play. The West is a far more balanced division; the most telling numbers are that the difference between the best team in the East (US BABY WOOO) and the worst (oh, the Islanders: the Frank Caliendo of the NHL) is 85 points (WOOO) and 38 points (my god that's depressing), whereas the differential in the West is 81-50 (San Jose vs. St. Louis). (Incidentally, did anyone else hear the Versus announcing team refer to "the red-hot Blues" last night? Since when is "3 wins in their last 6 games to keep them firmly anchored at the bottom of their conference" synonymous with "red-hot"? I swear to God, everyone that works at Versus is some form of hyper-evolved crustacean with sweet, tender meat where their brains should be. But I digress. Also, I've just caused a worldwide shortage of parentheses with this paragraph.) It's not surprising, therefore, that we've struggled more against teams from this division; we're 7-4-1 in inter-conference play as opposed to 32-5-6 (!!) when playing other teams from the East. Still, 7-4-1 is nothing to sneeze at when that record includes decisive wins over 4 of the currently-seeded teams (Chicago 3-1, Dallas 5-1, Detroit 4-1, Vancouver 1-0 for Thomas' second consecutive shutout). We've struggled against the Northwest division in particular (3-3-0), but I can preeetty much guarantee you that none of those teams are headed to the Cup finals anyway (seriously, I just got off the phone with Jarome Iginla. He asked me if I wanted to go to Puerto Vallarta with him in April. I told him I already had plans with Niklas Bäckström, but that I'd call him if Bäckström suffered a hernia due to carrying his entire fucking team into the playoffs).
So don't let this loss to the Sharks freak you out. Seriously. I'm one of the most prone to freaking-out people you'll ever meet, and this isn't worrying me. So it shouldn't worry you.
Also, here, because I love you.