The San Jose Sharks, a typically fantastic regular season team, have once again clinched a playoff spot and look to compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup this spring. As the perennial playoff disappointment, what can the Sharks do to turn things around this postseason?
Let’s take a look at a few key players for San Jose this postseason.
First-year captain and playmaker Joe Thornton is going to need to carry this Sharks team on his back through a grueling postseason that looks to put the Sharks up against the Ducks, Red Wings and Canucks. When Jumbo Joe is on top of his game, he is nearly unstoppable at getting points on the board. When he’s at his worst, he’s hard to keep out of the penalty box.
Thornton is an emotional player, which is something you look for your captains to possess as they work to carry your team through a tough test. Jumbo is a player that plays with his heart on his sleeve, which can bring brilliance at an even pace with frustration. If Joe can channel his emotions into positivity on the ice, then the Sharks look to go far. If he can’t, the Sharks are looking at yet another early exit.
The rookie-sensation and one of the top candidates for the Calder Trophy has been solid all year, and the Sharks may need to rely on him more than anyone thought at the beginning of this season.
Couture has scored 31 goals and 54 points this season (second most among all rookies in both categories), and a lot of his goals are of his own making, in that he has to work his way through tough defense and make some big plays to even get a look on net, let alone a goal. Couture has proven that he is a skilled player in all three zones, and if he can keep up his level of production, then San Jose should see the lamp light up for them a lot this postseason.
A Stanley Cup Champion and all-around solid blue liner, Dan Boyle brings a level of veteran experience and pure hockey skill that is increasingly valuable in the playoffs. Boyle’s prowess on the offensive side of the ice makes him scary on power plays and odd-man rushes, and his tenacity in the defensive zone makes him a scary threat for opposing goal-scorers. Look for Boyle to make an impact immediately.
Questions swirled around San Jose’s defense all season. San Jose blue liners have played tough, including the play of Marc-EdouardVlasic and Douglas Murray, and they have surprised a lot of people. Boyle is the foundation of this Sharks’ defense, and he’s going to need to continue to play top-notch hockey to stop the likes of the Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk and the Sedin twins. And that’s just to get out of the West.
Boyle is a huge influence both on and off the ice, and if he stays healthy, the Sharks will have a repeat trip to the Western Conference Finals.
In recent years, San Jose has managed to coast into the playoffs after starting the season on a tear, bringing huge expectations and pressure along with it. This year, the Sharks struggled early, hit their stride on an East coast road trip, and haven’t looked back since.
Watch out for San Jose this postseason. They’re motivated, deep, and red-hot. A west coast showdown with the Canucks looks imminent.