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San Jose Sharks And Vancouver Canucks: One Team Can Shake 'Choker' Label

I wrote previously about how the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks had a similar path in these playoffs, so be sure you check that out before you go forward. It's eerily similar, really ... both teams shared the same win/loss pattern, squandering 3-0 series leads and eventually winning a very close game seven in series against the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, respectively. But that's not where the similarities end, not by a long shot. These teams have plenty of things in common with one another.

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Both teams are multiple-time regular season champions, and both teams sputter out in the playoffs and have a "choking" label applied to them by fans and media alike. Now, going into the conference finals, one of these teams can remove that by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Whether or not they win them, there's really no way you can say they choked away the playoffs (unless something hilariously bad happens to either of them). It's an important moment for two very similar teams in that regard.

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Antti Niemi and Roberto Luongo faced similar paths thus far in the playoffs, having tough round one series before going on to play fantastic hockey in round two. Both goalies were pulled at times in round one, and both have responded exactly how their teams were hoping they would. If there's any certainty, there will be strong goalie play in this series. Then you've got your obvious comparisons to the Sedin brothers struggling in the playoffs, and Patrick Marleau's recent "gutless" play in the postseason. Both teams are high on talent and deep everywhere.

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These truly are the two best teams in the Western Conference taking facing off, and either one would have to be the heavy favorite in the next and final round.

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