The NHL Conference Finals start tonight as a Bunch of Jerks head to Beantown… Wait… Aren’t the jerks already in Boston?
On paper these are total miss matches. The Bruins and Sharks are two of the best teams in the NHL this year and for the past decade. They are all star esc teams loaded with top end talent. The Blues are a hot team ridding the wave of Jordan Binnington. And the Carolina Effin Hurricanes are a bunch of jerks. Like seriously it’s a weird mix of young top end talent paired with journeymen who are playing the best hockey of their careers.
So on paper we should be looking at a Sharks and Bruins Cup Final. However there is a chance that we get something else. Here are the breakdowns.
The Boston Bruins eliminated the Columbus Blue Jackets in six close games. The series was tooth and nail. If one puck would have went in instead of hitting a post the series could have been completely different. The fact that the B’s have played in two tight series makes me favor them. Not to mention the top six have found their scoring touch, and their defensive pairs are deeper then Carolina’s. The real difference maker in this series is is in between the pipes. Tuukka Rask is playing on another plane right now. The reason Columbus lost that series was solely on the shoulders of Tuukka Rask. Every great scoring opportunity he was there. Every chance to swing a game or build momentum Tuukka extinguished the flame. The Finnish netminder has done everything but win a cup and for that he will always live in Tim Thomas’s shadow. Well if he keeps playing like this he could very well win a Cup and a Conn Smythe.
Carolina to their credit have defied all odds. The weird blend of young top tier talent mixed with journemeny playing the best hockey of their careers has been a recipe for success. Their game seems to have no systematic approach whatsoever. They thrive in chaos and they are not intimidated by the moment or opponent. A lot of that has to do with Rod Brind’Amour and Justin Williams. The former teammates have really guided this team into rarified air. However The Conference Finals is generally the time where the Cinderella Stories turn to pumpkins. Momentum and luck can carry you this far. To get to the Stanley cup you will be forced to pay the toll, and a lot of these teams find themselves broke. The Hurricanes are banged up. Trevor Van Riemsdyk is done for the year, and they are still missing starting goalie Petr Mrazek.
As much as I love the bunch of Jerks i fear the big bad Bruins will prove to be too much for everyone’s favorite try hards. Bruins in 6.
The San Jose Sharks are on a collision course with destiny. They have survived two game sevens, they have lost their captain to injury. Only to have him return to lead them to victory. Their goaltender has somehow miraculously turned a GAA of 6 into a 2. They are firing on cylinders and their secret weapon Logan Couture has found the scoring touch. Every line on the Sharks roster can hurt you physically and on the scoreboard. Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson seem possessed. And residing above it all is Jumbo Joe as the talisman. Win One For Joe, and the Sharks seem poised to do so.
The Blues have really had a great playoffs. Quietly they defeated the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars. Those series were not flashy, they didn’t have the super star names of some of the other series. But what Craig Berube has done with this team can not be understated. From dead last in the NHL to Conference Finals. That just doesn’t happen. Half a season ago the players were fighting each other in practice, now they are four wins away from playing for a Stanley Cup.
I think this series will take seven games. The Blues match up well on paper with the Sharks, and the Sharks as a franchise never seem to do things the easy way. There may even be a point in this series were it looks like the Blues may escape.
Up front both teams have depth scoring, but the sharks have just a little more. On the back end the Blues have six guys who all play the same way. But the Sharks have Karlsson and Burns. In net Jordan Binnington has been a great story. But Martin Jones has been to a cup final, and knows what it take to get there. Behind the bench Craig Berube has performed miracles, but Peter Deboer has been to the Cup.
The Blues feel like they has just enough to keep it close but I will take the Sharks in seven.
So her you have it a Sharks and Bruins final. A chance for Joe Thornton to defeat the team that didn’t want him to win his first and likely only Stanley Cup.
P.S. I only missed one series last round, and I only missed it by a goal. That puts me at eight for twelve on the postseason.