Surprise, surprise: The San Jose Sharks dropped the opening game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the eighth seeded Colorado Avalanche.

All Sharks fans are thinking it, so I won't tip toe around the fact that the words "Here we go again" is a popular thought amongst us Bay Area hockey followers after game 1.

The Sharks ended up losing a tight 2-1 contest in game one Wednesday night in San Jose. With the loss, the Sharks have temporarily lost the home ice advantage they earned through another impressive regular season.

San Jose did have their chances early in the first and late in the third period, but there was never a sustained high level of play. The Sharks would dominate a shift here and there, but during the majority of the game Colorado was the team dictating the flow.

Now clearly, when the rather unknown Torrey Mitchell is the best player in teal during the opening game, the players themselves didn't live up to their abilities.

And in no way shape or form should the players be let off the hook.

That said, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan needs to be given a serious reality check on a couple of issues.

1) The "Team Canada" line is not a playoff line.

and

2) Rookie defenseman Jason Demers doesn't belong on the fourth line.

To start off, I'll discuss the latter of these issues.

Jason Demers has been nothing but hideously awful this season when the opposing team has the puck.

He has Dan Boyle like potential but is at least 2-3 years away from reaching that level of play. And let's get one thing straight, he is a defenseman, not a forward.

Demers played only a couple of games as a forward down the stretch and he hasn't been playing the position long enough to mesh well on the fourth line.

The fact he was playing on the fourth line ahead of Jed Ortmeyer, is appalling. While Ortmeyer had been struggling down the stretch, his overall play throughout the season earned him a playoff spot.

Ortmeyer finished the season with a career high in goals (8) and assists (11) while playing in 76 regular season games.

Clearly, that type of production from a "bottom-six" forward is much more worthy of a spot in the team's playoff lineup than a rookie defenseman who played in just 51 games this season due to his terrible defensive play.

And remember, the lineup spot in question here is fourth line forward spot, and Ortmeyer actually knows how to play that role. He forechecks like a mad man and plays the body much more effectively than Demers.

There is no question about it, playing the rookie defenseman on the fourth line instead of Ortmeyer is a disgrace to the organization and to a player (Ortmeyer) who may end up winning the Bill Masterton Memorial trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Furthermore, it would also be a disgrace to keep the top line of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau intact after their dreadful performance in game 1.

It seems obvious after last season's playoff collapse, that putting all three of the squad's top forwards on the same line is not the way to go.

Last year the Sharks failed to generate a consistent offensive attack in the playoffs, and their top line in particular---featuring Thornton, Marleau and Devin Setoguchi---didn't produce.

For whatever reason, star players who play for San Jose seem to get complacent when playing together.

Nobody can say with exact certainty why this is, but top players seem to relax when playing with other top players.

They fail to bring a sense of urgency when playing together.

On the contrary, when the stars are split up, the Sharks have showed to be stronger and more balanced. As the saying goes "Great players make those around them better".

Thornton made teammates Ryane Clowe and Torrey Mitchell better.

Patrick Marleau made Manny Malhotra and Joe Pavelski better.

And the combination of snipers Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi on the wings of the Sharks' "third line" made rookie center Logan Couture better.

Separating the star players makes the team better, so putting them on the same line is quite puzzling.

Yes, the "Burger Line" was a superb trio during the regular season when time and space to move the puck was available every minute of every game.

But this is the playoffs, when scoring becomes less and less frequently as defenders close off gaps at a much faster rate.

By splitting up the top players in the playoffs, opponents will have a much more difficult time defending the balanced line combinations.

Therefore, it would seem clear as day that a breakup of the "big" line will be coming in Game 2.

If a change isn't made and the Sharks go on to lose game 2, and then the series, Todd McLellan should be fired.

The playoffs is the worst time for making head scratching decisions as a head coach. 

And with a team as talented as the Sharks, back to back first round exits should spell the end of McLellan's tenure in San Jose.

 

PS: When your team lets up a go-ahead goal with under a minute left in a playoff game, it might be wise to use your one and only timeout. I'm just saying...