San Jose Finishes St. Louis in 6
With the late starts and small-market attraction, few people paid much attention to the San Jose Sharks all through this postseason. Pay attention now folks; the Sharks are going to the Stanley Cup championship, and they are a force to be reckoned with. They proved it by making relatively short work of the Western Conference title series, clinching on Wednesday night with a decisive 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Now the Sharks await the outcome of the Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay series with hopes of making the Penguins or Lightning their next victims and hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup. It will be the first foray into the Cup finals in the Sharks' 20-year history.
The Sharks left little doubt about who was the best team in the Western Conference, blasting the Blues in St. Louis 6-3 in Game 5 behind Joe Pavelski's two goals and two open netters, and then ruling the clinching home game. The Sharks rolled to a 4-0 lead on Wednesday, holding off the Blues and star Vladimir Tarasenko until it was way too late for St. Louis. Tarasenko picked up his first two goals - and points - of the series in the third period to close the gap to its final total.
It was that type of defense and the play of their own star, Pavelski, that gave the Sharks the advantage for much of the series. Pavelski capped his series by adding a goal in Game 6 and now has a whopping 14 goals in the postseason, more than anyone else in the playoffs.
The Next Victim?
The quest for their next opponent - whether it is the Penguins or Lightning - will be finding a way to stop Pavelski. If it is the Pens, look for a series much like the last, with two teams of different strategies, Pittsburgh grinding and waiting for opportunities, and San Jose using speed shooting to clip their wings. If it is the Lightning, it should be a donnybrook, with two teams going end to end and hitting the over every night. Either way, the Sharks should have finally earned the respect of the league. If they go up at a plus figure to win the Cup, the Sharks are certainly worthy of a bet.
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