The playoffs started with 16 teams and now it has come down to two that most didn't predict: The San Jose Sharks and the Pittsburgh Penguins. While the Penguins won a close game yesterday, this series is still very much up in the air.
The Penguins came into these playoffs as somewhat of an underdog, despite the strength of their roster, and now they’re still seen as the lesser of the two teams. Yet after beating the power-houses that are the Lightning and the Capitals, there shouldn’t be any challenge that is too much for them.
Halfway through the season they were being counted out in the months leading up to the start of Lord Stanley’s tournament. Then came the Sidney Crosby that everyone knows and hate and who put the Penguins on his back at the end of the season. Now the whole team is clicking in ways that make me see them as the favorite against the Bearded Wonders on the Sharks.
Jumbo Joe Thornton has been my favorite player in these playoff series. I’ve loved him since he started on the Bruins all those years ago, however the Penguins continue to make me feel some type of way. The loss of Daley on their back-line is being talked up coming into the finals, yet if they can beat the Lightning (Stamkos or no Stamkos) and the Gr8 Ovi of the Caps then you shouldn’t be counting them out. Letang and the rest of the Pens back line have been able to make the difference, and I’m sure that Pavelski and Thornton aren’t going to have as much of an easy time that most are saying they’ll have.
Pittsburgh has two goalies that they can go to between Fleury and Murray. Murray has proven himself to be a playoff-ready goalie despite being new to the entire atmosphere, and if Fleury lives up to his playoff potential then Murray might be given the nod at some point in these final games to go against the Sharks’ own young-stud Martin Jones.
Either way, don’t count out the Penguins. The Sharks are hungry, and I’d love to see Thornton get his well-deserved engraving on the greatest trophy in sports, but Pittsburgh is the team I see skating around with the Cup. I’m not saying they’ll have their way against San Jose, but I’m making my statement now:
Penguins in seven.
PS: The video is a long but #NeverForget 2011