It's all come down to this, these Western Conference Finals between the number one and two seeds (a contrast to the Eastern Conference, currently up for grabs by the third and fifth seeds) and multiple-time playoff "chokers." Tonight (Sunday), the San Jose Sharks get things going in Vancouver against the Canucks at the Rogers Center. The puck drops at 5:00 p.m. pacific time and will be shown on Versus, so what kind of game can you expect to see?
Uh .... well ... it will be good?
The analysis for this kind of matchup is, truthfully, endless. So much can be said about these teams and the talent on them. Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe represent strong, veteran threats for the Sharks, while Ryan Kesler's indomitable will is setting a wonderful precedent for confidence in the Canucks, and at any moment, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin could break out of their shells and play strong in the playoffs for once.
That's without even taking into account that two goalies on absolute tears of late in Antti Niemi and Roberto Luongo will be facing off. Both goalies suffered up-and-down first series, only to come back and make great save after great save in round two. Luongo has the experience and veteran's grit, while Niemi already has a Stanley Cup victory to his credit. On his way to attaining that cup, he did shut down the Canucks in the semifinals as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, so he's got that going for him as well.
There is just so much talent doing battle right now, with two talent-heavy teams. It starts with the goaltending, but it will then become a battle of top lines and depth. The Canucks are a very strong team all around, but they possess some of the best defensive depth in the league, while the Sharks are probably the most offensive-laden team when it comes to depth. Do the Canucks have deeper defense than the Sharks have offense? Players like Logan Couture, Dany Heatley and the aforementioned Clowe will have a much tougher time, whereas in past series, they were the guys who came through for the Sharks when the top lines canceled eachother out.
Now, the top lines will be absolutely instrumental. San Jose needs to win the battles up top, and they definitely can if at their best ... it all hinges on whether or not the Canucks are the best. Oddsmakers are having a hard time with this fight and so is this writer, everything is so up in the air. After game one, needless to say there will be much more to write about and discuss once we see where this is going.
The Canucks got the better of the Sharks in the regular season, taking three of four games, but that's all out the window in the playoffs. They've never faced eachother in the playoffs, so what better time than now? Let's see what happens.