What a ride it has been thus far. The ups and downs of an 82-game season with the addition of 18 more games in the playoffs can take a toll on any team. The Pittsburgh Penguins have shown resiliency in the last few months and deserve to be in the position they are in.
San Jose equally deserves the opportunity heading to their first ever Stanley Cup Final. In many respects, the Sharks play similarly to the Penguins. One major commonality is that San Jose wants their defense involved in the offense.
Not only do they have skilled defensemen at their blue line, the Sharks have speedy forwards blended well with tough grinders along the boards. San Jose finished the regular season with 28 road wins, which was a league-high and a franchise record.
The two teams are so similar in the way their offense is played, the Penguins finished the season in third in the league with 245 goals, just four more than the Sharks who had 241.
There are many players Pittsburgh will have to contain, but the two biggest names associated with San Jose are Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Oddly enough the two were both drafted into the league in 1997, the same year Pittsburgh hosted the draft.
Since 2005, when Thornton and Marleau began playing together, both have made significant individual contributions and made great achievements, but could never seem to get the monkey off their backs and advance to a Stanley Cup Finals. Now, they have a shot at bringing their city its first ever Stanley Cup.
Thornton is entering Monday’s game with 18 points and Marleau with 12 points over the course of this postseason. Sidney Crosby admitted Thursday night after the win against Tampa Bay that it has been a difficult road.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Sidney Crosby said to the media after Game 7. “That’s probably been a big reason why we’ve been able to get to this point. (We’ve) gone through it and built trust.”
Who Will Hoist the Cup?
The Pittsburgh Penguins. Coach Mike Sullivan, in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, put a jolt into this team. Though San Jose is a team that matches up well against Pittsburgh, the same has been said for each team they have eliminated.
This is a legacy series for Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Sports heroes that have been born in the last few months will rise again on the biggest stage in hockey. Matt Murray will continue to stay cool, calm and collected and lead his team over the Sharks in six games.
The Sharks are a tough team and will be seen again next season as a top competitor, but Pittsburgh is too close to completing the Cinderella story to have it end here. Sullivan will charge this team up and expect all of the players for Pittsburgh to play in a gear never previously seen.
Game 1 | @Pittsburgh | Monday, May 30 @ 8:00 p.m.
Game 2 | @Pittsburgh | Wednesday, June 1 @ 8:00 p.m.
Game 3 | @San Jose | Saturday, June 4 @ 8:00 p.m.
Game 4 | @San Jose | Monday, June 6 @ 8:00 p.m.
Game 5 | @Pittsburgh | Thursday, June 9 @ 8:00 p.m.
Game 6 | @San Jose | Sunday, June 12 @ 8:00 p.m.
Game 7 | @Pittsburgh | Wednesday, June 15 @ 8:00 p.m.
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