San Jose, CA
Two franchises, the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, much maligned for never winning a Cup, face off in this amazing Western Conference Final beginning today. The Blues were part of the NHL expansion in 1967 have been to the dance but never won. San Jose, celebrating its 25th anniversary has never advanced to a Cup Final.
That is not a story line for this year although the media will beat that horse to death throughout the remaining games. I prefer to focus on their intriguing matchup because that’s what we do here.
First, St. Louis is a powerful team with balanced scoring, great puck moving defensemen, and a goalie, Brian Elliot who has taken them past the 2015 Stanley Cup champs, the Hawks, and the Dallas Stars, owners of the best record in the West. Coach Ken Hitchcock is a great coach and has won a Cup with the Stars in 1999.
The Sharks, led by Captain Joe Pavelski are not your muthas Sharks anymore. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were the face of the franchises futility but are now pieces of the puzzle instead of their best hope for winning it all. Balanced scoring, very good puck moving defensemen and goalie Martin Jones are what got San Jose to the Finals for the first time since 2011.
San Jose has exorcised the demons from LaLa Land, beating the Kings in 5 games in the first round. Moving into the semis, the home teams won all the games with San Jose stomping on the Preds nuts 5-0 in the decisive seventh game on Thursday. Five different players scored in that contest including the aforementioned Marleau and Thornton, Pavelski, gritty Joel Ward and the clutchest of all the Sharks this post season Logan420Couture.
St. Louis was built to beat the Hawks and the Kings because they lost in the 1st round to both of those teams in 2012 through 2014 and Minny Soda last year. Anyway, the point is, who has had more playoff futility than the Blues and Sharks? The answer is no one.
The good news is that one team will move on and have a great chance to shed their loser moniker. San Jose is built similar to the St Louis team and matches up very well. The Sharks rookie Jonas Donskoi of San Jose is a Finnish player that can finish, scoring clutch goals all post season and plays as if he has the puck on a string. Blues rookie Robbie Fabbri brings a similar scoring prowess and has given St. Louis game breaking speed.
To sum it up, a great Final awaits their fans and fans of great hockey played with tremendous skill and savior faire. For my less literate readers, the definition of savior faire is to play with poise, aplomb,adroitness, polish, and style. In a word, passion, grit and skill will be on display tonight! So don’t miss this series, could be amazing and one for the ages!