The time is nigh. Tonight is the beginning of the the first rounds most contested match-up. It features the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights in a rematch of last years second round.
Tonight’s contest features two teams that are becoming bitter rivals at a breakneck pace. The Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks have only Pacific Division adversaries for a short period but during that span there hasn’t been a dull game between the two clubs.
Both of these teams haven’t played that great entering the big dance. They both have only won 3 games in their previous 10 games. But to be fair both teams have been settled into their respected playoff positions for a handful of games now so take that record with a grain of salt.
For the most part these two teams will be at full strength on paper. They both have some ridiculous firepower. These two teams rank in top 3 in xGF and xGF%, at 5v5, per naturalstattrick. Expect this game to be a shootout with both clubs exchanging highly dangerous scoring chances all night.
The Vegas Golden Knights are ridiculously deep but were outmatched by Team Teal in that regard. The San Jose Sharks having four 30 goal scorers and 2 blue liners who have recorded two of the highest point totals in the modern era puts their skaters over the top.
On the ice this series will resemble a fist fight however in-between the benches it will be more of a chess match. It’s extremely interesting watching these two high-caliber coaches strategize against one another. With both teams boasting ridiculously deep lineups don’t be surprised if we see a high scoring affair.
Even with all of talent between the two skater groups of these teams this series will be won in between the pipes. Martin Jones’ play all year has been questionable all season long, however he has performed well in playoff games. He’s boasted a .926 SV% in 4 postseasons. So there is reason for optimism when it comes to 29-year-old’s play in this series.
Marc-Andre Fluery’s prowess in net can’t be dismissed. However he has dealt with a lower-body injury that had sidelined him for a decent chunk of time. This puts pressure on the Golden Knights to keep Fluery’s crease free of teal sweaters.
It hasn’t been talked about as much lately but the health of Fluery is almost as crucial to the Golden Knights success as Erik Karlsson’s health is to Team Teal.
Take a look at the lines, defensive pairings, and and starters in net for this marquee match-up in the Pacific division.
San Jose Sharks
Timo Meier ~ Logan Couture ~ Joe Pavelski
Evander Kane ~ Tomas Hertl ~ Gus Nyquist
Marcus Sorensen~ Joe Thornton ~ Kevin Labanc
Micheal Haley ~ Barclay Goodrow ~ Melker Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic ~ Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon ~ Erik Karlsson
Joakim Ryan ~ Justin Braun
Projected Starter ~ Martin Jones
Backup ~ Aaron Dell
Vegas Golden Knights
Jonathan Marchessault ~ William Karlsson ~ Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty ~ Paul Stastny ~ Mark Stone
Tomas Nosek ~ Cody Eakin ~ Alex Tuch
Will Carrier ~ Pierre-Edouard Bellemare ~ Ryan Reaves
Nate Schmidt ~ Deryk Engelland
Brayden McNabb ~ Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill ~ Colin Miller
Projected Starter ~ Marc-Andre Fluery
Backup ~ Malcom Subban
Expect the Tank to be rocking with San Jose Sharks territory being represented in full force. Tonight marks the first step towards Team Teal’s very first Stanley Cup.