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Go Sharks! (And pray a lot)
Playoffs start today
4/12/17 - By Ken Smyth -

Finally! From October to April, most of us couldn't wait for this season to end. Admittedly, the reasons changed as it went along. Now the San Jose Sharks go against an Edmonton Oilers team most of us would have rather not see again until 2018.

Don't wonder whether the Oilers are for real. They are. Given that they got off to a great start with a new building, a healthy McDavid and a schedule that looked like Wayne Gretzky drew it up himself. They also finished the season challenging Anaheim for the division title. Their March and April schedule was thirteen games home and five away.

They're young, fast, well-rested and horribly healthy. Missing Logan Couture and with Joe Thornton damaged, the Sharks will find this a difficult series. The Oilers are supposed to be a speedy team, but they manhandled the Sharks in two games recently. A hat trick for Lucic last Thursday, seriously? Somehow the Sharks will need to steal a couple games or this postseason will be very short.

The east coast hockey reporters are already in their bunks with the door locked, dreaming of a Western Conference Final match-up of the Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks. (Remember when the Sharks were the suave and sexy pick for the Western Conference? Time flies.) The Hawks face their own challenge with Nashville and then either Minnesota or St. Louis.

Anaheim will probably be the opponent of the winner of the Sharks/Oilers series, and they'll certainly match up well physically with whoever they face. In the Eastern Conference, anything might happen. Like the Sharks, the Penguins played a lot of hockey in the last twelve months, and Chris Kunitz is gone until next season. The old NHL lie "this is finally the Washington Capitals' year", could be true.

Other News-

The Los Angeles Kings' owners, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, fired Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter. Luc Robitaille is now team President and briefly-Shark Rob Blake is Vice President and General Manager. Hiring well-remembered ex-players into top executive roles doesn't always work, but if I wasn't a Sharks' fan I'd wish them success. First step is to unload some long-term contracts for under-performing older players. (Hey, what am I saying? I'm 63)

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