After years of trading championships, neither the Los Angeles Kings nor Chicago Blackhawks can win the Stanley Cup, so a different team will finally win the elusive trophy. Of the four teams that remain, the San Jose Sharks are the best. They are a balanced team built around both outstanding veterans and skilled youngsters.
Their goaltender, Martin Jones, has performed exceptionally well. Jones has started every game for the Sharks and he maintains a 2.07 GAA and .921 save percentage. Jones’ exceptional numbers are the result of both great play and a solid defensive core bolstered this year with the addition of Paul Martin. Martin joined the Sharks in the offseason, and he became a great partner for Norris Trophy finalist, Brent Burns. Martin is often touted for his strong defensive play, but he is also a great passer of the puck, and Burns has benefited from the partnership.
The Sharks also have great depth at forward. With veterans like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski, they have great offensive fire power. However, these excellent leaders could not do the job without Joonas Donskoi or Tomas Hertl. Hertl plays on San Jose’s top line, and he has scored five goals and eight points in the playoffs. At just 22, Hertl should have a long career ahead of him, and his playing alongside Thornton and Pavelski can only benefit the Sharks now and in the future.
Donskoi has had a strong rookie season, and he is a great creator on the second line. He has produced well in the playoffs, tallying four goals and eight points. The Sharks also have hard-working role players on the fourth line who chip in with goals occasionally.
The Sharks’ best player is Logan Couture, who has seven goals and twenty points in sixteen games played. Couture has consistently helped to push his team forward in the playoffs. The twenty seven-year-old center has set a new record for the Sharks as highest scorer in a single postseason.
Following back-to-back shutouts, the Sharks lost Saturday’s game four looking less impressive than any of their previous performances. That said, the Sharks were the best away team during the regular season, so head coach Peter Deboer surely expects a quick turn-around. Moreover, neither the Penguins nor Lightning appear to stand a legitimate chance to beat either western conference team in the finals.