Alas, another season has come and gone and Canucks fans are left once again without their team ready to take them to the dance. So what are you to do? Fear not! As we are the helpful and caring types, we have begun our annual campaign to find homes for Canucks fans who don’t want hockey to be over. Remember, your loyalty is nothing trivial, so make them tell you why you should pledge your allegiance in the quest for hockey’s ultimate prize.
Question #1: What has to be different this year for the Sharks against Vegas in the playoffs?
Last year the Knights killed the Sharks with their speed and aggressive forecheck. The key for San Jose in this year’s postseason will be showing they can match that high energy pace, which makes their younger forwards like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Evander Kane the Sharks’ most valuable assets in the first round. San Jose’s defense will also need to handle containing the Knights’ powerful offense that features Mark Stone...on line two.
Question #2: What player has to step up their performance this series for the Sharks to have a chance to win?
Easily Martin Jones. Scoring might be up across the board this year, but the North Van native has really struggled in net this season, posting an .896 save percentage behind one of the best blue lines in hockey. To make things worse, the Golden Knights have been his Kryptonite since the very beginning. For San Jose to have any chance of beating the Knights, Jones will need to rediscover the form that got the Sharks to the Cup Final in 2016.
Question #3: Is this the make it or break year for the Sharks?
Yes and no. The Sharks have some big names hitting the free agent market in the offseason, including Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist and future Canuck Erik Karlsson. If the Sharks can go on a deep playoff run, it could convince some of their UFAs to stay at a discounted rate for another shot at winning. If they can’t, it could spell the end of their Stanley Cup window. But San Jose has a funny way of staying competitive no matter how much turnover there is, and Doug Wilson’s staff has a reputation of finding gems at the draft no matter where they’re picking. Anything is possible with San Jose at this point, but a crossroads may be much closer than we think.
Bonus: Is there really a reason for Canucks fans to cheer for a team that beats them so often?
If you’re the type of Canucks fan that can relate to the pain of cheering for a snake-bitten franchise, or just want to see a hockey legend like Joe Thornton finally lift his first Cup, then the Sharks are just the bandwagon team for you. But if you have a hard time seeing a team 20 years younger than your own win a championship first, San Jose is gonna be a tough sell. Either way, we’ll always have the Stanchion goal.
Thanks again to LackInTheCrease for taking the time to answer questions and let’s us know if he was convincing.