April 30th is opening night for the annual National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs and the San Jose Sharks are in! That's right, our men in teal are in 6th place. This means they face the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. For new Sharks fans, San Jose and Vancouver have met in the post season before, the Canucks eliminating the Sharks.
St. Louis played Chicago last night, the 4th-6th play-off positions hinged on whether St. Louis, the Kings, and the Sharks won or lost their games. Chicago's Coach chose to sit out many of its star players for the game, allowing Kane, Toews, Seabrook, and Keith to rest. In reality, Chicago had nothing to prove, so I could understand the decision. The move allowed the Blue to win, cementing the team's position as the Western Conference's 4th seed. Los Angeles beat San Jose 3-2, taking the 5th seed. LA will play St Louis.
Now that the slate is wiped clean, we can look for some exciting playoff action. Typically, our guys have been a roller-coaster team in the post season. Let's hope that changes this year. Patrick Marleau usually ups his game in the play-offs.
One item of note: checking the end of regular season stats I saw that SJ goalie Antti Niemi is tied with Henrik Lundqvist and Nicklas Backstrom for wins (24 each). Niemi, Lundqvist, and Backstrom each flip-flop through the various categories as to which one is on top. Rory Boylen wrote a nice piece on why a goalie should be the Hart Trophy winner (Niemi is one of his two choices). I happen to agree with him. The sportswriters will be casting their ballots in the near future.
If there is any way I could send a message in favor of Antti, I would shout out now. Without Niemi, the Sharks would be packing their bags to begin their summer vacations. He has been the glue that held the team together during the stretches when the team was less than stellar. He deserves this piece of hardware!
San Jose Sharks recap on the last regular game of the season against the LA Kings:
the Hockey News: Rory Boylen
Let's Go SHARKS!!
stay safe out there!