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Sharks finally click in playoffs and show power

By: Andrew McGill

San Jose Sharks

Two years ago, the San Jose Sharks held a 3-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Over the next week, the Sharks would drop four straight games to the Kings, and become the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after holding a 3-0 lead.

The next season they would fail to qualify for the playoffs, so you could say that there were some dark days for hockey fans in Silicon Valley. However, the clouds seem to be breaking up and the sun is starting to shine through.

Two years after being embarrassed in the first round, the Sharks put up six goals on the Kings in an elimination game, coming full circle and exacting their revenge.

Joe Thornton insisted that this Sharks team was different at the beginning of the series and clearly he meant that in a mental way. The bulk of the Sharks core has been around for awhile now and they’ve been through a lot of negativity as a group.

This team constantly has the reputation of being a good regular season contender, but not having what it takes to make a deep playoff run. They’ve failed to make it past the second round in the past five seasons and after making two straight trips to the conference finals.

So far this postseason, things look to be turning around. They made rather quick work of a heavy Kings team, winning the physically punishing series in just five games.

It was a series most analysts predicted the Kings to win in six or seven games. The one game that the Kings were able to win ended up being in overtime.

Not every game came so easy for the Sharks — as three of their wins came by only one goal — so they didn’t necessarily blow them out of the water, but it’s a good sign for this team. It shows that they don’t need to blow teams out of the water and that they can hold steady in close games. In the playoffs, if you can win close games, you’re guaranteed to go further.

In Game 5, they jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but gave up three unanswered goals in the second. They buckled down and put up three unanswered of their own in the third to bury the Kings.

They are extremely deep down the middle of their lineup, with an abundance of both skill and experience. Joe Pavelski counters their first line and also has five goals through five games so far this postseason. Logan Couture has six points so far, centering the second line and Patrick Marleau anchors the third line and has collected four points, including a power play goal.

Speaking of the power play, the Sharks was starting to click on the man advantage towards the end of the series, something that they’ll need to continue in order to make a deep playoff run.

When you look at their back end, they have a solid top four led by the electric Brent Burns. Burns registered eight points in the series – tied for most in the playoffs — and led the team in ice time. Having him as a number one defenseman should be a comforting feeling for any fans rooting for the Sharks during the playoffs.

Depth is a beautiful thing to have in the playoffs, and the Sharks certainly have it. They going to need it to try and prove their doubters wrong. It’s not too deep into the playoffs so they have time to show some flaws, but if their performance against the Kings is any indication then they’re ready to make a deep run.

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Andrew McGill

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