| This Should be
Two paths to the next round
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
Everyone will be rested and healthy.
words, this should be fun!
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