You read correctly. I believe the San Jose Sharks will win the Stanley Cup in June. It became apparent to me Thursday night, as I witnessed the Sharks dismantle the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. And before I go any further in this blog, I’m warning you now: there will be a number of terrible shark/prey/animal jokes in the text below. I just can’t help it, so consider this your warning.
You are probably thinking “Burgundy, the Sharks predictably kill the Senators, like Jack Black kicks dogs over bridges, and you’re ready to name San Jose champions?” Not quite, my mini buddah. I have some fin-tastic reasoning, so read on, good reader.
You see, Thursday’s game is meaningless. I had a good time, but thats not the point – Burgundy always has a good time. What I’m saying is San Jose is the strongest, most well rounded team in the Western Conference and entire NHL. And before anyone gets smart and suggests the Sharks have struggled against other top Western Conference teams this year, I will be the first to agree. However… here are my argument fins, errr… I mean, my argument points. Okay, that one was weak. I will apologize for that (sorry).
Home Ice Advantage
Opponents have been drowning all season in the Shark Tank, otherwise known as the HP Pavillion. San Jose is king there. They’ve only lost 2 games in regulation all season in the Tank and another 3 in shootout. They’ve won every other game. So basically, they don’t lose much at home and if they finish the season as predicted, they will have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. As I mentioned before, the Sharks have struggled against other top Western teams, namely the Detroit Red Wings. I don’t see the Wings winning the Stanley Cup again this year. Detroit has beaten San Jose pretty soundly twice at Joe Louis Arena this year, but have lost both in the Shark Tank. In a 7 game series, I think San Jose can take atleast one on the road (still only lost 7 road games this year) per series. Also, consider this: of all the teams the Sharks are likely to play in the first round of the playoffs (Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets), only 4 of them are used to PST game starts. That could be an issue in a 7 game series – it was for the Ottawa Senators two years ago against the Anaheim Ducks. Quick sidenote here: whats with these Chris Pronger rumors? Why would the Ducks risk trading him and losing Neidermayer in the summer? Love Francois Beauchemin, but he and newly acquired Ryan Whitney would be the only real defensemen on the team… like San Jose needs a weaker division.
Another reason I don’t see the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup is goaltending. Their goaltending isn’t where it needs to be and barring a big deadline deal, I don’t see that changing. To be honest, I don’t see a team in the Western Conference, Vancouver Canucks/Roberto Luongo aside, who’s goaltending holds a gill to that of San Jose’s. No offense to other goalies here, but the teeth are simply far sharper in San Jose. These shark references are getting awesome, eh?
No team in hockey is deeper down the middle than the San Jose Sharks. I’d argue the Sharks are deeper than the Pacific Ocean, but its a fins-and-tails kind of debate. And this is a hockey blog. So anyways, consider this: their top 6 forwards all have 15 or more goals already. Of their top 6 forwards, Joe Thornton is 6th with 15. The Sharks will likely finish the season with 6 20-goal scorers; talk about depth. And thats with Jon Cheechoo struggling to hit double digits this year! Aside from Thornton, Cheechoo, Patrick Marleau (who’s having a great season without Ron Wilson), Ryan Clowe, Devin Setagouchi, Joe Pavelski and Milan Michalek, look at how aggressive their defense are! With Dan Boyle and Rob Blake leading the charge, they are often in their oppositions crease! I love how they rush up with the forwards to create odd-man rushes. The Sharks can do this with such great skating defenseman. And again, I don’t think there’s a team in the Western Conference (or the Eastern Conference) who’s defense goes as deep as the Sharks – maybe Detroit, but thats it. When guys like Christian Ehrhoff and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are considered 3/4 defensemen, things are going well. Add Cup winner Brad Lukowich to the fold and thats a winning “D”. Doug Wilson, GM of the Sharks deserves a lot of credit for this team. Setagouchi, Marleau, Michalek, Pavelski, Clowe and Cheechoo were all drafted and developed by the Sharks. We talk about Detroit’s drafting success, but we should also tip our fins to Wilson and co. for the great job they’ve done over the years.
So thats it. I think the San Jose will finally win the Stanley Cup this season. Who will they beat? That could be another blog all-together. Thats a hint to my lazy bloggers (Fantana, Baxter, Mantooth and Tambland) to write some more top stories. Anyways, at this point, I’m leaning towards the Washington Capitals, if their goaltending can stay stable. Whats your take? Do you agree with me? Should StayClassy.net sell those T-Shirts I talked about in my last blog? Should I fire Mantooth because he has bad hair? Too many questions?
You stay classy, internet.