NHL Playoffs: Will the Sharks aging core be able to withstand the Oilers explosive offense? With Connor McDavid‘s career year, the captains first playoff appearance comes just two years into in his career against a team with players who double his age.
NHL Playoffs: San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers, the last time these two met was back in 2005, in the Western Conference finals. The Oilers took that series 4-2 since then the Oilers playoff history has been nothing. With their first positive season in almost a decade, they now meet the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks coming off a tough Stanley Cup loss last season, expect to be back into the mix again. As Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau continue to grow old, this Oilers team will not be an easy first round matchup.
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As it’s known, defense and good special teams win championships. Well, in that case, the Sharks have given up fewer goals per game(2.44) than the Oilers(2.52). Despite the Sharks edge in that category, the Oilers finished the season with the 5th best powerplay(22.9%), while the Sharks powerplay struggled tremendously finishing the regular season with the 5th worst powerplay(16.7%). While the Sharks have a fortitude of highly skilled forwards, along with the best defensemen in the league Brent Burns. Their powerplay may come to bite them in the back this series. Despite the Oilers small percentage in goals given up per game, their explosive offense makes up for that, finishing the regular season with the 8th most goals per game(2.96), while the Sharks finished with the 19th most goals per game(2.67). Push comes to shove, with the Oilers Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the front, will cause a headache for Sharks defensemen this playoff series. As the two tied for penalty kill percentage(80.7) during the regular season, it’s tough to debate here but the Oilers advantage up front, give them the edge here.
While the Oilers have little to no playoff experience, and not having seen playoff action in the last eleven seasons will be the thorn in their side this playoff series. With the Sharks making playoff appearances ten out of the last eleven seasons proves their ability to perform in playoff action. Plus the Sharks are coming off a Stanley Cup appearance, the Sharks have not won a cup in their franchise history, with coming so close but falling short, that feeling of emptiness must still be resonating in the player’s heads. As many hockey fans are wondering, how will Connor McDavid perform in the playoffs.
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The 20-year-old captain, just two years into his career, tallied 100 points this season, winning the Art Ross trophy. McDavid has proven what he can do in a full season, putting him under the limelight of the playoffs will be a true test for the first year captain. Alongside him with Patrick Maroon and Leon Draisaitl, McDavid will continue where he left off in the regular season. Another big question many hockey fans are wondering, will Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau gets redemption at their chance to win the Stanley Cup. With Brent Burns on the back end, finishing the regular season with 76 points, 29 goals and 47 assists leading all defensemen in points and goals, the 32-year-old bearded wonder will be the backbone for this Sharks team. Along with Joe Pavelski, although he had a bit of a down year to last season the 32-year-old, scoring forward will yet again prove his worth in the playoffs. Giving the edge to the Sharks in terms of playoff experience.
With the emergence of both these teams goaltenders, the goaltending edge is a draw here. Despite Cam Talbot‘s, one game playoff experience the 29-year old saw 4,924 minutes of regular season action. Starting in the most games for any goalie during the regular season, Talbot managed to tally 42 wins and post 2.39 goals against average. Talbot may not have the playoff experience but with the amount of ti
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me he saw during the regular season, it will be nothing new for the Oilers starter. Martin Jones started in 65 regular season games, tallying 35 wins, along with 2.40 goals against average. Last season was Jones first year as a full-time starter, with that being his first year as a starter in playoff action, is another reason why Talbot cannot be overlooked here. Jones had himself a magnificent playoff run last year, collecting 14 wins, with 2.14 goals against average. Jones has been on the big stage before, the 27-year-old arguably carried the Sharks to the Stanley Cup last season, looking to do it again will be a task for the second year starter.