Season Series: Sharks 2-1-1
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The San Jose Sharks have the 2nd best record in the Western Conference (Chicago has the most wins) and come from the Pacific Division which is packed with great teams such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Dallas. A few years ago it was the Ducks and Stars that were a lock to make it… now the Coyotes and Kings join San Jose. The Sharks have played great hockey over the entire season and through-out 2009-10 have put together numourous winning steaks of at leave five games. They did have one losing streak of five straight during the season but three were lost after regulation and after they ripped off eight straight wins. They finished the season with a record of 50-21-11 and were neck-and-neck for the last two weeks with the Blackhawks for 1st place. The offence lead by Thornton, Marleau and Heatley combined for 254 points and they’re defence is lead by Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray and veteran leader Rob Blake.
Evgeni Nabokov is the Sharks goalie and while having his worst year statistically for goal against average, he has faced the most shots ever in his career and put up his best career save percentage. The Sharks are clearly one of the teams to beat in the West with offensive fire-power, great defence but what is most important (and questionable) will be the play of Nobokov. The Western Conference is one by far more competitive with 95+ points being the amount you need to make the playoffs (the East magic number was just under 90 points) and it’s possible for any team to knock off their opponent in the West because of that. An eight could beat a one, but my gut feelings tells me San Jose won’t be overly tested until they face the likes of Chicago, Vancouver or Phoenix. With that being said, since the NHL lock-out the Sharks have failed to make it passed the 2nd round with 3 straight losses to Oilers, Red Wings and Stars in the 2nd round before last year ducking out early to the #8 Ducks in shocking fashion… won’t happen with the Avalanche.
The Colorado Avalanche have a young and talented team but the problem lies with their inconsistency every time they step on the ice. The Avalanche are a team who can beat you 4-1, but at the same time lose 3-0 to the very same team the very next night but this inconsistency will only last for a couple years until Colorado gets some experience under their belt. After all, look at the teams leaders for points (with their age in brackets), Paul Stastny (24), Chris Stewart (22), Matt Duchene (19), Wojtek Wolski (24), Milan Hejduk (the exception at 34), and T.J Galiardi (21). Tons of young talent leads this team offensively but through-out the season they have shown they can’t be the best team in the West like teams such as San Jose and Chicago. Matt Duchene suffered a torso injury in the 2nd last game of the season and even if he is 100% physically, he won’t be there 100% mentally and personally I don’ t think he will be playing at full strength.
The entire team is quite young, even the starting defensemen Kyle Quincey and Kyle Cuminsky are twenty-four and twenty-three respectively, and Ryan Wilson who plays on the 2nd line is even younger than all of them (he just turned 23 in February). To put things in perspective, Ruslan Salei is on the second line and veterans Adam Foote and John-Michael Liles have put pushed all the way back to the third line. Don’t get me wrong, the Avalanche are so skilled it’s not even funny but they are way to young and inexperience to put up a fight against the San Jose Sharks. Sometime around early June 2014, I hoped you’ve marked on your calendar that the Colorado Avalanche will be playing the Stanley Cup because if the Avalanche had a goalie with the skills and credentials of Roberto Luongo or Martin Brodeur, they’d be a contender much earlier if Craig Anderson could be put in the same sentence (he never will).
TheCoach’s Pick: SHARKS in FIVE