Monday, May 30, 2016

We Will Have A New Stanley Cup Champion...Soon!

Getty Images
The San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins are the last two teams standing as we finally begin the Stanley Cup finals. For what must be the first time ever, I predicted the two finalists in the last post. This match-up (at least we hope!!) has the makings of an even, fast paced series with both teams boasting explosive offenses.

The Sharks are a slight favourites to take the Cup. I don't usually get too sentimental, but I would like to see the Sharks win their first ever Cup and join the other California teams (L.A. and Anaheim) drinking from Lord Stanley's Cup.

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Potential Conn Smythe candidates?
  • For the Pens, Phil Kessel hasn't looked this good since his earlier (happier days in TO) and his linemate, Nick Bonino has scored some big game winning goals in the playoffs. I'm not sure who votes for the Conn Smythe, but if it's media types from Toronto (who blamed Phil for the Leafs misfortunes) you can bet Kessel will be overlooked, accidentally on purpose.
  • Though he started out slow, at least stat-wise for the first couple of rounds, Sidney Crosby has stepped up and led this Pens with his experience, composure and leadership. Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Fleury are the go-to guys on this team and only Crosby (and maybe Letang) have lived up to their hype this playoff. Malkin has been better the last couple of games, but if the Pens want to close this out he needs to be better.
  • One of the guy's that's impressed me the most on Pittsburgh is Matt Murray in goal. He hasn't been spectacular, but he's been steady and provided the Pens with big saves at key times. To play at this high level so young, is amazing! For such a young rookie, especially in goal, he's been unfazed and unrattled by the pressure of the moment.
  •  The Sharks have a couple of players that deserve consideration for the Conn. Logan Couture leads playoff scoring with 29 points, while Joe Pavelski leads goal scoring with 14. Joe Thornton is playing some of his best hockey of his long career and Brent Burns seems to be everywhere. 
  • The toughest position in hockey is playing goal in the playoffs. The Sharks netminding has always been disappointing in previous playoff runs in the past and they definitely found their guy with Martin Jones, who I believe might be the only Shark with a Stanley Cup ring (L.A.). Jones kept the Sharks hopes still alive with an outstanding performance in game 5, he needs to be equally good to force a game 7.
We are now in our last week of the season. Game 6 takes place back in San Jose on Sunday night and if the Sharks win, there will be a game 7 on Wednesday. Unlike the NBA finals, all the games have been close. No blowouts and almost all the games so far have gone down to the final seconds. With action this good, it will be hard to be without hockey until September with the World Cup Of Hockey or when the meaningful games begin again in October.
Oh well, the draft is approaching and free agency begins July 1.

*editor's note: I started writing this post May 30 and updated and published it June 10, the day after game 5.

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