The San Jose Sharks have long been considered a Stanley Cup contender. In fact, I have picked them in my playoff pools, year after year. This year I decided against that trend, of course the team makes the final for the first time in its 25 year history.
The Sharks did it with a core group of players that have long been questioned for their inability to go deep into the playoffs.
One thing that’s occasionally overlooked is that many of those Sharks teams didn’t get strong enough goaltending.
After the Sharks missed the playoffs last season, general manager Doug Wilson addressed that need by acquiring Martin Jones in a trade with the Boston Bruins at the 2015 draft.
Wilson also replaced long-time head coach Todd McLellan with Peter DeBoer and brought in defenceman Paul Martin and playoff performer Joel Ward as unrestricted free agents.
Another key, keeping Brent Burns on defense instead of switching back and forth between forward / defenseman. Burns, has been fantastic during the post-season after being named a Norris Trophy finalist. Brent Burns has set all kinds of new franchise records this season.
As for Ward, after a quiet start to this series (no points in four games), he scored twice in Game 6 to give him four goals over the past two games and six in the playoffs.
Peter DeBoer has made a trip to the Stanley Cup finals before, (Head Coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2012). It is actually nice to see DeBoer helping this team realize its potential.
The St. Louis Blues were heavily favored to win the Western Conference especially after dethroning the mighty Chicago Blackhawks in round one. However, everybody member of the San Jose Sharks is clicking right now. With every playoff game that is played. Someone on the team seems to be making playoff history for the franchise. The San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues in 6 games.
Congratulations, to the San Jose Sharks on being crowned Western Conference champions.
San Jose now awaits the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
The quest for the franchise’s first Stanley Cup begins on May 30.