For years people have been predicting the San Jose Sharks would win the
Cup. Remember 2008 when the Sharks finished the season with franchise records
in wins (53) and points (117) only to be knocked off by 8th seed
Anaheim? Or the four game sweep by the Blackhawks in 2010 after leading the
Western Conference? There’s also the 2014 first-round loss to the Los Angeles
Kings after being up 3-0 in the series. Needless to say the San Jose Sharks
have had the players, the coaches, and the skills needed to be knocking on the
Stanley Cup door for years, if not decades, but until this year they haven’t
been allowed in.
All of which leaves fans in a strange position. Is this the year it’s
safe to put your emotions out there and root for a championship or will hearts
be crushed as the Stanley Cup eludes them once again? It’s a tough decision but
there is some evidence that your love and support will not be wasted. The San
Jose Sharks have shown their mettle in the playoffs this year.
It began with California rivals, the LA Kings, in the first round. San
Jose needed to take the series not only to advance but also to wipe the slate
clean as far as the Kings go. Remember that 2014 series? That kind of loss
sticks with a team and it needed to be cleansed. Fortunately, it worked and a
combination of great goaltending, staunch defense, and a guy by the name of Joe
Pavelski gave San Jose a 4-1 series win. After the win in Game 5, first-year
coach Pete DeBoer summed it up, "I haven't been
around here for some of the stuff that's gone on in the past. I'm sure for some
guys, they felt like we exorcised some demons tonight.”
Next came the Nashville Predators and a
7-game series that almost sent the Sharks back to San Jose with their hats in
their hands. Fortunately second-line center, Logan Couture, decided that simply
wasn’t going to happen on his watch, setting a franchise record for most points
in a series with 6 goals and 5 assists. The team also saved their best game for
the last, beating Nashville 5-0 to win the series 4-3.
On to St. Louis where the Sharks took the Blues out in 6 games. There
were two main factors that contributed to the Sharks success in the series.
First, coming back after losses. A 2-1 loss in Game 1 was followed by a
resounding 4-0 victory in Game 2. After a 6-3 loss in Game 4 the Sharks came
back with a forceful 6-3 win in Game 5. The second major factor was, once
again, a guy named Joe Pavelski who dominated the Blues defense with 4 goals
and 5 assists in the 6 game series. Pavelski is leading the post-season with 13
goals and he’s second in points at 22. The Blues simply couldn’t stop him.
And thus the San Jose Sharks have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals
for the first time in franchise history. After years of being told they were
the team to beat they have finally earned the mantle and the only thing
standing between them and the Stanley Cup are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite
a 3-2 loss in Game 1, the San Jose Sharks may be destined for this
championship. Go ahead and root for them. It’s going to be okay.
Labels: Michael Quinn