Not to draw this comparison (because... really), but Bowman lost in the first round his first year too... and he could coach a little.
Yes, a part of the improvement between this year and last is due to Holland et al and their ability to change the makeup of the team on the fly. A part is due to the players actually performing up to reasonable expectations. A part is due to the style of game Babcock demands, which is much more successful in a capped league than in a non-capped league, IMO.
I think the transitions from Murray to Bowman and from Lewis to Babcock have a ton of similarities, both with regards to how the roster was changed and with how the coaches were different from their predecessors.
A rather important point to make, and highlight for the Wings board especially. You can afford 2-3 top tier talents; some depth players most of whom hopefully come from your own development program.
The Sharks played well in game 1 and the 3rd period of game 3. They never sustained any type of dominating effort, and usually their pattern was to come out strong for around 10 minutes and gradually give ground and get overwhelmed by Detroit. Saying San Jose could have "easily" swept Detroit...that's a bit excessive IMO. Even in games 1-4 Detroit was the better, more consistent team.
The Sharks played thier best early in the series. Thats the point I am trying to make.
And saying they could have EASILY swept is not excessive. The Wings rallied late in Games 2 and 4 of the series. If the Sharks hold both of those 3rd period leads, we have ourselves a sweep. The Sharks lost 1 game all year when leading heading into the 3rd period. The Sharks couldnt seal the deal either time, and the Wings eventually won the series.
I am ecstatic that it didnt happen, but make no mistake...it was quite possible, and even probable in the minds of many.