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This Should be Fun!!
Two paths to the next round
4/20/18 - By Ryan Hall -

Wednesday night, with a deft flick of his wrist, Tomas Hertl sent the puck into the net, and drove a dagger into the heart of the Anaheim Ducks. While it's easy to get caught up in the emotion of the event, what happened in San Jose was simply the latest counter-move in a season long contest between the Sharks and Las Vegas Golden Knights. Now, after 86 games, these two teams will have a chance to settle things definitively, with the Pacific Division crown on the line.

Honestly, it wasn't supposed to be this way.

The path Vegas took to reach this point has been well documented, from upstart expansion club to hockey juggernaut. However, what hasn't been told is the journey San Jose undertook, with their eyes focused solely on reaching this moment in time.

It begins back in November, when according to several insiders GM Doug Wilson became convinced that there was more to the Golden Knights quick start than simple beginners luck. Seeing that they represented a perfect example of the 'new NHL' where speed and full 18-man cohesion ruled, Wilson began the process of slowly changing the Sharks into a team that could compete with Vegas. What followed were a serious of moves, often overlooked at the time, that added missing pieces to the roster.

Youngsters Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc were slowly acclimatized to the pro game, aided by several stints with the AHL Barracuda. Eric Fehr was added on February 20th, in what at the time appeared to be a minor trade. Then the big acquisition of Evander Kane on February 26. Along the way Joel Ward and Yannick Hansen would lose their spots in the line-up, resulting in nearly half of the Sharks opening day forwards being replaced. The results have spoken for themselves.

Which brings us to the here and now, as in about a week the Sharks and Golden Knights will drop the puck on their series. These two clubs, each in their own way, represent life in the unpredictable NHL circa 2018 where only the flexible survive. If their past regular season match-ups are any indication, we should be in for an intense, fast-paced, yet clean series where skill and passion dominate. Both teams have no clear weakness, boast strong goaltending, and have coaches that excel at making small in-game adjustments.

The fan bases are energized.

Everyone will be rested and healthy.

In other words, this should be fun!

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