Behind the Mask

San Jose vs Winnipeg

San Jose Sharks (2) - (46-25-3-8- 103 pts) vs Winnipeg Jets (7) - (37-27-3-15- 92 pts)

Season Series: 6-1-0-1 San Jose

Vito Loconte made a few deals here and there but there's no question who drove the bus to earn a division title in the very competitive Dionne Division where four of the five teams qualified for the playoffs. The Sharks are led by the bullish Nathan MacKinnon. The 40 goal man is a horse and his puck possession is something the Jets will undoubtedly try to neutralize in this series. Linemates Bo Horvat and Jake Guentzel are no wallflowers either. This line possesses size, speed, scoring and tenacity. Imagine going into the corners with this trio. Did i mention who centers the second line? Oh yeah that guy, you may have heard of him. Sidney Crosby had 37 goals which left him only three behind Big Mac in team scoring. He's still a dominant presence on the ice and his leadership knows no bounds. His wingers have to always be giving their best as expected or else. Nikolaj Ehlers and Brock Boeser had 25 and 24 goals respectively and will be counted on to continue with their secondary scoring. The defense is led by the minute munching, bone crunching, tower of power Victor Hedman. With five goals and 40 assists, he does bring an offensive game to the table but he's more than that. Physical and punishing, he brings size and a mean streak to the back end and it's easy to see why he's so valued and respected around the league. Hedman's partner is the silent but deadly Jeff Petry. He was 6th in scoring on the Sharks with 15 goals and 43 assists and is the perfect complement for Hedman. Perhaps the key move made by Vito Loconte was when the Sharks traded Jonathan Quick, Josh Manson, ANH 20 Rnd 4 to the Detroit RedWings in exchange for Marc-Andre Fleury. The flower blossomed on the west coast with a better team in front of him (no offense Mr.Martel). Nothing against Jonathan Quick but Fleury just seemed like a better fit. I can see the confidence his teammates have in him and it's shown in San Jose's overall play down the stretch. These guys look tough.

Welcome to your first RSHL playoff series Sean McAndrews. I dare say you have been a great addition to the league and look forward to many more years with you here. Winnipeg is led naturally by center Mark Scheifele. I'm not sure why there isn't a captain in Winnipeg but if it were up to me, Scheifele would be that man. He leads by example, on the ice, after game press meetings, off the ice, helping with the younger players. He does it all for Winnipeg but he's not alone. David Perron, Anders Lee, and Oliver Bjorkstrand all broke the 20 goal mark. Ryan Johansen had 17 goals and Jakob Silfverberg with 19 weren't far behind. This group of forwards are more than capable of filling the net and i bet head coach John Tortorella will do some shuffling in order to solve the Sharks. The blueline is solid led by the controversial Anthony DeAngelo. He led all Jets defensemen in scoring and will be counted on to supply offense this post season. His defensive teammates include stalwarts Jacob Trouba, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nikita Zaitsev, Adam Larsson, and Andrej Sekera. This unit had the 4th best PK in the league and will need to keep this going should discipline slip against San Jose. What helps a good PK is of course great goaltending. Enter veteran Tuukka Rask. He appeared in 63 games and posted 31 wins along with a sparkling 1.97 GAA and a .918%. His steady and calm demeanor could go a long way in determining the outcome of this series. This will be a tight close checking opening round and one to keep an eye on.

Prediction: San Jose in 6

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Great write up! - Jets


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