Stanley Cup Playoffs: The Key to the San Jose Sharks’ Success Isn’t Named Joe

May 16th, 2010 by John Engel Leave a reply »
On Sunday, game one of the Western Conference Finals featured two of the NHL’s most prolific offenses, though the real matchup was between netminders, Antti Niemi (Chicago) and Evgeni Nabokov. A sign of things to come in such a competitive series.

Chicago took a 1-0 series lead at the HP Pavilion on behalf of Niemi, who had 44 saves and one goal against for the second seeded Blackhawks, despite the Sharks’ five power plays. Jason Demers had the only goal for San Jose, his first of the playoffs, while right winger Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago.

At the start of the 2010 playoffs, the Sharks’ 30-year-old center, Joe Thornton, was the victim of intense ridicule for his slow start and “lack of leadership” against their first round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche, in which he had no goals and a plus/minus rating of -4.

Of late however, Thornton has once again reemerged into the media spotlight with a strong outing in the 4-1 series win against the Detroit Red Wings, where he had eight points in five games.

Part of one of the best one-two punches in the NHL, line two center Joe Pav ...

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