With a 5-2 Game 6 victory over the St. Louis Blues, the San Jose Sharks will play for the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
Couture with the EN, 5-2 Sharks, and San Jose is Stanley Cup-final bound
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) May 26, 2016
The Sharks play over the course of the first three rounds to advance from the Western Conference has been solid in all areas.
San Jose Sharks Advance to Stanley Cup Final
Martin Jones has rewarded Doug Wilson for the faith he placed in him. Sending San Jose’s 2016 1st round pick a year after the team failed to qualify for the playoffs has gone from worrying to a stroke of genius. His statistics during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been exceptional and shown an ability to steal games. He is now 3-0 in elimination games this year.
The Sharks star players shined bright and were able to solve a potent Blues defense and both Blues goaltenders. Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski have produced consistently against the Kings, the Predators and again against the Blues. The second line of Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, and Patrick Marleau continued to be perhaps the best second line in the postseason, and each is dependable defensively in addition to their offensive ability. Chris Tierney has used the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a coming out party and has been deployed with confidence by head coach Peter DeBoer.
The Blues are a talented team that played well against the Sharks. Much has been made of the Blues inability to score goals and after being shutout three times in six games, that is a valid point. Many will lay much of this defeat on at the feet of emerging star Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored his only two goals of the series late in the third period of Game 6. This narrative discounts the work done, but the Sharks defensive corps never give the 21-year-old Blues star room to operate. Justin Braun and Marc-Eduard Vlasic were often deployed against Tarasenko and as the shutdown pairing for San Jose they did exactly that. Factoring in the Sharks top pairing of Brent Burns and Paul Martin, who might be the most dangerous duo in the entire NHL, few teams were able to slow down the dynamic Burns at any point in the 2015-16 season. The Blues struggled to contain their elite possession game and offensive instinct.
Ken Hitchcock did not learn his lesson in the Blues series against the Dallas Stars, who also played a game of musical chairs in their net. The Blues were able to handle a suspect Dallas Stars defense and maddening goaltending alternation between former San Jose netminder Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. They were able to challenge the Sharks at numerous times during the series and had long stretched of dominating play. In the Blues Game 4 victory, the Blues were able to produce a 6-3 win but were far behind in shot attempts, losing the possession battle 46 shot attempts to the Sharks 63.
Total Team Effort
Now, for the first time, the San Jose Sharks will play for the Stanley Cup. A Western Conference Final series lead was uncharted waters for the franchise, so to call this the best team to ever take the ice for San Jose is now unquestionable. And the best San Jose Sharks team ever constructed will now play for the greatest trophy in all of sport.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) May 26, 2016