Cup Scouting Report: Sharks

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Louis did it a little last year. Everything changes. You have to evolve.” The Sharks are evolving and have positioned themselves as a group quietly capable of surprising in the West. “If they get by the first round, look out,” said a longtime scout. KEY STRENGTH: In Antti Niemi , the Sharks have a goalie who was one of the NHL’s most consistent during the regular season. Goalie is a question mark for a number of Western Conference contenders — including the Ducks, Blackhawks, Blues and Canucks. It’s not a problem for the Sharks. Niemi finished the season tied for the league lead in wins and his .924 save percentage put him firmly in the top 10 all season. “There’s two things there. Niemi won a Cup and Logan Couture is unbelievable,” said the scout. “He’s better than Thornton, Marleau, the whole bunch.” One Western Conference player noticed the Sharks were playing a more conservative system in front of Niemi when they faced San Jose this season. source:

Preview and Prediction for Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks Playoff Matchup


In his first year as the Canucks’ primary starter between the pipes, he recorded five shutouts and stopped nearly 93 percent of shot attempts. Veteran backstop Roberto Luongo is an interesting option should Schneider stumble. The 34-year-old may be entering the final stages of his swan song with an organization he’s suited up for since 2006.  His postseason experience makes him one of the league’s top Plan-B goalkeepers.   Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks Niemi started 43 games in his third season with San Jose, recording career-bests in save percentage (.924) and GAA (2.16). The 29-year-old is reliable but hasn’t yet proven himself as an outstanding player at the position.  The opening pair of games in Vancouver should tell us a lot about Niemi’s state of mind entering a crucial postseason for his career. If he comes in hot, San Jose is a very dangerous underdog. Biggest Mismatch Derek Leung/Getty Images The Canucks have two capable goalies, including a Stanley Cup Final veteran. Vancouver’s defensive approach has been effective throughout the regular season and helped fuel a late-season surge to the top of division standings. Meanwhile, San Jose brings a pedestrian offensive attack onto the ice. The Sharks rank 24th in the league in scoring and lack depth at both wing positions.  If Vancouver is able to make life miserable for San Jose’s stable of talented centers, goals will be at a premium for the Sharks. Vancouver Will Win If… source:

Los Angeles 3, San Jose 2

LA swept St. Louis in the second round last year. “Well we know what we’re getting, they have some big bodies and they play a heavy game,” Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. “We have some big bodies and we’re pretty familiar, we’ve played them enough in the past season so we know what we’re getting and they know what they’re getting, so it’s a matter of getting ready and just go from there.” Kyle Clifford, Justin Williams and Slava Voynov scored for Los Angeles, which won its final seven home games. The Kings haven’t lost at Staples Center since March 23 against Vancouver. T.J. Galiardi and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks (25-16-7), who will be the sixth seed in the Western Conference and will face Vancouver in the first round. Antti Niemi made 24 saves. “They compete hard, they won the Northwest for a reason. They have a real good team. We have a big challenge on our hands,” San Jose forward Joe Thornton said. Clifford scored 48 seconds into the second period by following up his own shot from the left circle, but the Sharks tied it 49 seconds later on Couture’s tally. source:


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