Tag Archives: San Jose Sharks

Pacific Division All-Time Greatest Rosters

In the final installment of the greatest all-time roster for all 30 NHL franchises we head to the west coast to look into the Pacific Division. The California teams have dominated this division for the ten years, but 6 of these 7 teams have at least made it to the Stanley Cup Final since 2004, sorry Pookie but the one team who hasn’t is the Coyotes. We will also explore the Eastern and Western Conference playoff picture and declare a Stanley Cup Champion based on the entire all-time greatest roster series. So, sit back, relax, and get ready for some great hockey knowledge to be dropped on you.

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1. Edmonton Oilers:

Forwards

Ryan Smyth-Wayne Gretzky-Jari Kurri

Esa Tikkanen-Mark Messier-Glenn Anderson

Craig MacTavish-Doug Weight-Ales Hemsky

Todd Marchant-Shawn Horcoff-Taylor Hall

Defense

Paul Coffey-Kevin Lowe

Charles Huddy-Randall Gregg

James Smith-Jannee Niinimaa

Goalie

Grant Fuhr

Holy $#!%… This team gives me nightmares. I want to go to all 82 games and watch them take advantage of everyone. No questions asked that the Oilers will win the Pacific Division, and maybe a lot more. This team is stacked to the brim with talent. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, will lead the team, and probably the league in goals and points most likely. Mark Messier isn’t even on the first line, and Dough Weight is a third liner. This is literally making my head spin, but maybe it’s the Tedy Bruschi getting to me right now, who knows, stay tuned. The defense may be the only gap on this team, but Paul Coffey is a thug and he will no doubt hold down the big minutes for the Oilers as they make their run at Lord Stanley. And when it comes to goalie there is only one choice, Grant Fuhr. Fuhr is the all-time wins leader for Edmonton and he will be a solid net minder for Wayne and the boys to play in front of. Not a lot to say about this team cause the roster speaks for itself, but wouldn’t you love to watch this team play just once? Wow.

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2. Anaheim Ducks:

Forwards

Paul Kariya-Ryan Getzlaf-Teemu Selanne

Andy McDonald-Steve Rucchin-Corey Perry

Chris Kunitz-Saku Koivu-Bobby Ryan

Andrew Cogliano-Rob Niedermayer-Matt Cullen

Defense

Scott Niedermayer-Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler-Chris Pronger

Lubomir Visnovsky-Oleg Tverdovsky

Goalie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

The first line of the Anaheim Ducks all-time team is pretty loaded, Paul Kariya, Ryan Getzlaf, and of course Teemu Selanne make for a starting line that any team would be happy with. But can they compete with that Oilers top line? I don’t quite think so. The offense will have games where I can see them exploding for 6 or 7 goals a night, but they will have their fair share of shutouts as well. The team is going to need to rely heavily on defense and goaltending to help carry them at times, especially come to the playoffs. Scott Niedermayer is the go to on defense for the Ducks. Chris Pronger and Cam Fowler make up a very nice second unit as well. And now time for my biased opinion, Jean-Sebasten Giguere is a great goalie and will lead the Ducks to a second place finish in the Pacific Division. I love me some Giggy Giguere and I would love to see him still in the show, but I get to fall asleep every night with him watching over me on my shelf, God love JS Giguere.

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3. Los Angeles Kings:

Forwards

Luc Robitalle-Marcel Dionne-Dave Taylor

Anze Kopitar-Wayne Gretzky-Dustin Brown

Alex Frolov-Bernie Nicholls-James Fox

Bob Berry-Robert Goring-Ziggy Palffy

Defense

Rob Blake-Drew Doughty

Steve Duchesne-Lubomir Visnovsky

Mark Hardy-Marty McSorley

Goalie

Jonathan Quick

Very good looking team right here. But why third behind Anaheim? Call it a gut feeling. But that will give us a great LA vs Anaheim first round matchup, look for the upset there. Top 2 lines are something of legends, the bottom two are highlighted by Alex Frolov, yikes. Robitalle, Dionne, Kopitar, and Gretzky are the 4 leading scorers when it’s all said and done, and maybe they can contend with Gretzkys other club up in Edmonton in round 2. I want to watch that top two line practice honestly, it would be like watching Bob Ross paint a beautiful masterpiece of a mountain range, like I said, stuff of legends. Defense is firm. Blake and Doughty are men among boys in a league like this, they will hold down the fort night in and night out. Jonathan Quick put Hollywood on his back and carried the 8 seed Kings to their first Stanley Cup Championship in 2012, then he did it again in 2014. He is a future hall of famer and he is one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game of ice hockey.

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4. Calgary Flames:

Forwards

Jarome Iginla-Theoren Fleury-Joe Nieuwendyk

Gary Roberts-Lanny McDonald-Kent Nilsson

Hakan Loob-Joel Otto-Jim Peplinski

Joe Mullen-Craig Conroy-Alex Tanguay

Defense

Al MacInnis-Gary Suter

Paul Reinhart-Mark Giordano

Phil Housley-Dion Phaneuf

Goalie

Mikka Kiprusoff

I am a sucker for the Calgary Flames. I will never forget watching game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final in my Aunts bedroom of my Grandparents house, I was a huge Jarome Iginla fan, and I was heartbroken when they lost. So, speaking of Jarome Iginla, he is undoubtedly one of my favourite players of all-time, and he also the greatest Flame of all-time. Add Fleury and Nieuwendyk to Iggy and that is a great first line. Lanny McDonald bringing Calgary its only Stanley Cup back in 1988 is a story all hockey fans love to hear about. Lanny rocked the hell out of the fire red stache, and watching him raise the cup gives me chills every time. The back half of the offense lacks the fire power you would like to have on an all-time team, but it is by no means a bad bottom 6. The defense is really strong. Al MacInnis and Gary Suter are a fantastic top pair to have on your team. But the second pair is just as good with Paul Reinhart and Mark Giordano. Phil Housley and Dion Phaneuf were great Flames back in their primes, Phaneuf now sucks and is in Ottawa I think, who cares though. Mikka Kiprusoff was an unreal goalie. He was one of the most flexible keepers I can ever remember watching play, and he almost won the Flames that Stanley Cup back in 2004. I like this Calgary roster a lot, look for them to make a run at second place in the division.

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5. Vancouver Canucks:

Forwards

Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Pavel Bure

Markus Naslund-Trevor Linden-Stanley Smyl

Ryan Kesler-Thomas Gradin-Tony Tanti

Patrik Sundstrom-Donald Lever-Alexander Mogilny

Defense

Mattias Ohlund-Jyrki Lumme

Dennis Kearns-Alex Edler

Kevin Bieksa-Sami Salo

Goalie

Roberto Luongo

If we are being 100% honest, I hate the Vancouver Canucks, and it is 100% because of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. I have no real reason to hate them because the Boston Bruins beat the Canucks in 7, but I hated every player on the Canucks and now I hold a grudge and I hope Canucks fans never experience happiness after I watched them burn down their city because of my big bad Bruins. Go B’s! Anyways, this team is okay. The first line as a pair of Sedin sisters and Pavel Bure. Bure is an all-time great and I have zero beef with him, but the Sedins cannot play in big games, so do not expect the Canucks to go very far in an all-time greatest season. The forwards have huge gaps in some lines, and I don’t see how Ryan Kesler could ever be on the third line of an all-time greatest team. Nonetheless the defense is solid. Mattias Ohlund is the number one obviously and he has a great goalie behind him. I hated Luongo back in 2011, but forever thank him for “pumping” Timmy T’s tires and fueling the fire even more to beat the bums that are the Vancouver Canucks.

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6. San Jose Sharks:

Forwards

Patrick Marleu-Joe Thornton-Owen Nolan

Jeff Friesen-Joe Pavelski-Jonathan Cheechoo

Marco Sturm-Logan Couture-Vincent Damphousse

Ryane Clowe-Mike Ricci-Devin Setoguchi

Defense

Dan Boyle-Brent Burns

Marc Edouard Vlasic-Brad Stuart

Sandis Ozolinsh-Mike Rathje

Goalie

Evgeni Nabokov

I am a big supporter of the San Jose Sharks, but this team just lacks the firepower it needs to compete with the best teams in an all-time season. Their roster is pretty loaded, but majority of these guys still play, and granted the Sharks are coming off their best season in franchise history, this roster won’t cut it in an all-time season. The defense falls flat for me. I don’t think Dan Boyle is the number one guy a team wants in an all-time roster, but that’s what the Sharks got. I love the top line, and I am a sucker for Owen Nolan, he was an idol of some sorts to me as a kid seeing we had similar last names, but they cannot compete with the Oilers, Kings, or Ducks. Evgeni Nabokov is a brilliant net minder, but not the goalie you want in an all-time season unfortunately. Go Sharks but maybe in another 30 years this roster will be beefier.

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7. Arizona Coyotes:

Forwards

Keith Tkachuk-Dave Hawerchuk-Shane Doan

Ladislav Nagy-Thomas Steen-Teemu Selanne

Douglas Smail-Jeremy Roenick-Paul Maclean

Laurie Boschman-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata

Defense

Teppo Numminen-Keith Yandle

Fredrik Olausson-Randy Carlyle

Phil Housley-Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Goalie

Ilya Bryzgalov

The Arizona Coyotes, Pookies favourite NHL team for some crazy reason, but not a terrible all-time roster honestly. I thought they were going to look a lot worse on paper, but not that bad if you ask me. The first line is solid. These boys aren’t going to blow anyone away with their skill and speed, but they play solid two way hockey and can keep you in most games on most nights. Shane Doan is Mr. Coyote in essence, he has played his whole career in the desert, and he has never made it past the Conference Finals, and even making it there in 2012 was an absolute shocker. Teemu Selanne never played a game in a Coyotes uniform, but before the franchise relocated to Phoenix, Selanne was a Finnish Phenom in Winnipeg for the original version of the Jets. The third line even has quite a bit of talent on it with Jeremy Roenick down the middle, who doesn’t love JR honestly? He’s like a hockey legend of some sorts, maybe. Defense is mediocre to me. Teppo Numminen was a stud in his own rights for the Jets back in the good ole days, but Keith Yandle is no all-time defenseman. Yandle is one of the best defenders to ever play for the Arizona franchise though so it was a no brainer to have him on the top unit. The third d-line is interesting to me. Phil Housley is a hall of famer, not for Arizona, but he was again on of the best defenders to put on the desert dog logo. Then Oliver Ekman-Larsson is becoming a super star in the NHL as we speak, look for him to win a Norris Trophy in the next 3 years.

Well now we know the seedings for each conference, but who plays who and who wins the ultimate prize of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Let’s remind you folks of the Eastern Conference playoff picture:

1.Montreal Canadiens vs. WC2. New York Rangers

2.Boston Bruins vs. 3.Detroit Red Wings

In the Metropolitan Division we have:

1.Pittsburgh Penguins vs. WC1. Toronto Maple Leafs

2.New Jersey Devils vs. 3. Philadelphia Flyers

I see a very easy 5 game series for the Canadiens over the Rangers, and a very good 7 game series won by Boston over Detroit, giving us a much anticipated Boston vs Montreal showdown. Unfortunately, Montreal takes out the Bruins is 6. Pittsburgh will wipe the floor with Toronto with a clean sweep, and the New Jersey Devils win a great 6 or 7 game series. Pittsburgh will have a little more trouble with New Jersey, but they should take care of them in 6. In the Eastern Conference Finals we have Montreal and Pittsburgh and we all knew it was coming, but Montreal wins that series in about 5 or 6 games putting them into the Cup Final. Who will they play? Let’s go out west:

1.Chicago Blackhawks vs. WC2. St. Louis Blues

2.Colorado Avalanche vs. 3.Dallas Stars

1.Edmonton Oilers vs. WC1. Calgary Flames

2.Anaheim Ducks vs. 3. Los Angeles Kings

Chicago will undoubtedly clean sweep St. Louis in the first round and their second round opponent will be the Colorado Avalanche as they will take Dallas the distance and win in 7. But, round two belongs to Colorado over Chicago, also in 7 games. The Pacific bracket has Edmonton sweeping Alberta rival Calgary and then sweeping the LA Kings in the second round as well. The Conference Final won’t be a sweep, maybe 6 games max, but Edmonton is going to the Cup to face Montreal. Stanley Cup… flip a coin, both the Habs and Oilers are incredible but I am giving the edge to Edmonton in 7 games. What an incredible series that would be if you really think about it. That concludes our greatest NHL all-time roster series, who would you have your franchises greatest all-time team?

 

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Fanning The Heat-er

Come October 2016 it will have been a decade since the beginning of Dany Heatley’s back to back 50 goal campaigns.

Today, the 35 year old “Heater” as he was once called amongst his teammates, is a member of the Nurnberg Ice Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. If you haven’t heard of them, you aren’t alone.

What I find most interesting isn’t necessarily where Dany Heatley is, but how he got there.

Prior to his exodus from the NHL, Dany was renowned as one of, if not the leagues most dangerous scorer. 372 goals and 791 points in the NHL alone back that notion up. But how can one player experience such a fall from grace? It wasn’t a gradual one either, Mr. Heatley’s fall from relevance crashed harder than the Cincinnati Zoo’s twitter profile.

In order to properly gauge the scope of the situation you must start where it all began.

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Dany’s time in Atlanta was a tale of two entirely different personalities. In his maiden season, he lead all rookies in points with 67 and was second in scoring behind teammate, Ilya Kovalchuk. Winning rookie of the year in 2001 was the cherry on top to what looked like the beginning of a promising career.

2002 saw him put up 89 points, good enough for 9th in league scoring. It was his best year he would have with the Thrashers.

2003 was a reality check for the super star in the making. In late September 2003, Dany lost control of his Ferrari, slammed into a wall, splitting the cabin in half, and ejected himself and teammate Dan Snyder from the car. Heatley suffered injuries to which he would recover. Snyder wasn’t so lucky, suffering from a skull fracture he would die 6 days later under intensive hospital care. The recoil was disastrous to Dany’s career.

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In an attempt to leave the horrific memories of the fatal car crash behind him, Heatley requested a trade from Atlanta following the lockout season of 2004-05.

Heatley was traded to Ottawa for Marion Hossa. From there what was seen in Atlanta was a mere preview for what was to come north of the boarder.

Senator nation quickly adopted the Heatley, Spezza, Alfredson line as the most lethal in the game. Heatley scored 50 goals and recorded 103 points for 4th in the league.

One year later Heatley tallied yet another 50 goal campaign, just two shy of Vinny Lecavalier’s 52 for the league lead.

The offensively lead Senators battled to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, falling in 5 games to the Anaheim Ducks.

2007-08 was good but not great for Heatley, 41 goals and yet another trip to the playoffs. While they lost in 4 games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The sky appeared to be the limit heading into 2008-09 despite a disappointing follow up to their Stanley Cup appearance.

However, 2008-09 wasn’t the jump start season the fans were hoping for. Hitting just 31 goals over that span, Heatley would yet again request a trade. Ottawa obliged him.

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With 39 goals in his first go around with the San Jose Sharks, Heatley once again found chemistry with the best that the Sharks had to offer. Marleau, Thornton, Heatley made up the go to line for the Sharks. Propelling San Jose to the Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks. If you know a thing or two, you can probably figure out that San Jose lost the series. Chicago swept the Sharks, scoring a goal late in the fourth game on the power play with Heatley in the box.

2010-11 was the beginning of the end for Heatley. Experiencing a career low in goals with just 26, while not horrific numbers by any means they are a far cry from what was expected of him. Following the conclusion of the season, it was revealed that he was playing with multiple nagging injuries in his second full season.

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Ultimately Heatley fell out of favor with the San Jose Sharks. Especially since they were still on the books for his 7.5 million dollar cap hit. The writing was on the wall, “Heater” was beginning to fade away.

When the Minnesota Wild were willing to take risk on him, San Jose pounced on the opportunity.

53 points as a member of the Wild was not good enough to carry the team to the post season.

With a lockout yet again cutting into another season in 2012-13, Heately managed only 11 goals and 10 assists. Later in the season, Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s hit on Heatley put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season. Time became his number one enemy.

2013-14 was Heatley’s first glimpse towards his impending reality. 9 goals and 10 assists in his first 55 games to start the season. In the latter half of the same season he found himself kicking a can on the fourth line. Following that demotion, he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.

Minnesota made it to the playoffs in 2013-14 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Heatley was inserted into the lineup not only for his experience, but as a spark. While he was effective in certain areas, it wasn’t enough to pull the upset.

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Signing a one year deal with Anaheim the following off season, Heatley would never suit up for a regular season game. Later in the year his rights were traded to Florida to help them stay within the realm of the salary cap. He was immediately assigned to Florida’s minor league team where he would finish the year. He only put up 20 points in the AHL.

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With 32 points in 46 games in Europe last season, it would appear as if Heatley has found his home. Such is the conclusion of so many stories as they pertain to their NHL counterparts.

With all of that, Heatley remains the most peculiar. From 2004-2010 he was one of the best in the business. Regardless of previous successes, it took just three seasons to bury his old reputation. For the four time all-star and former rookie of the year, his fall from grace was anything but gradual or sustained.

While Dany Heatley may not be a regular NHLer anymore, he lives through his parody account on twitter. Besides, ‘who recorded back to back 50 goal seasons in 2006 and 2007’ makes for an interesting trivia question.

Just a lesson for you kids out there, nothing is guaranteed tomorrow.

 

Local Program Equates Success In The NHL

In case you were unaware, the Pittsburgh Penguins took a two games to none series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals last night by virtue of Conor Sheary’s overtime game winner. Pictured above.

Sheary who wears the number 43 for the Penguins was an undrafted free agent when he graduated from Umass Amherst in the spring of 2014. A stand out for the program, he captained Umass to an unimpressive 8-22-4 record. However, he amassed over 100 points in his collegiate career, which still wasn’t enough to gauge significant interest from NHL teams.

Which doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

College hockey standouts are often pursued with caution, especially coming from an up and down program such as Umass Amherst’s. I’m not saying it’s correct, I’m just saying that’s how it is.

That being said, Mario Lemieux cannot be overly disappointed with his investment in Sheary, who signed with Pittsburg as a free agent. He brings an element of speed, offensive creativity and Massachusetts grit to the ice every night. I would categorize him as a “gift that keeps on giving”.

By no means is Sheary a one trick pony, no sir. His snipe late in the first period of game one Monday night gave Pittsburg a huge 2-0 lead heading into the dressing room.

After last night, he has four goals throughout the playoffs, not to shabby for a kid who started the year in the minors.

Actually, what makes this story that much more significant is how Sheary worked to get to this point. 90 games in the minors with 81 career points, I think we can all agree he deserved a call up.

Right now Pittsburg is flat out dominating the San Jose Sharks. They’re faster, their breakouts are much crisper, they pile on a ton of shots and obviously score more goals. While San Jose won the physicality battle as they often do, they have been forced to play outside of their comfort zone. Consistently having to adhere to Pittsburg’s speed. Appearing to have completely abandoned the game plan that has gotten them here, gain the red line, dump it in and win the 50/50 battles in the corners.

Perhaps a change of scenery is exactly what the doctor ordered in the Sharks case. We’ve seen it a thousand times, go home and play with a lot more reckless abandon. Easier said than done, but it has been done, the 2011 Boston Bruins found themselves behind the 8 ball against Vancouver, returning to Boston after two subpar games in Vancouver and evened the series 2-2. Then won the Cup in 7 games.

Speaking of changes in scenery, Frank Vatrano is another recent Umass Amherst alum who definitely did not need one. While he only played one game alongside Sheary, he brought an offensive punch following Sheary’s departure. 28 points in 36 games, worthy enough to receive a tryout offer from his childhood dream team, the Boston Bruins. Forgoing his academic senior year to play for the Providence Bruins.

Last season Vatrano recorded 12 points in 10 games for the Providence Bruins. In 2015-16 he split time between the clubs. 36 goals in 36 games at the farm level, 11 points in 39 games with Boston.

One thing is for sure he’s a far greater goal scorer than pizza boy. But I digress.

Don’t sleep on Umass Amherst, well maybe during their games. But those boys can flat out play.

Regardless, Go Sharks.

 

 

Seeking First Blood

When the Boston Bruins selected Joe Thornton 1st overall at the 1997 draft everyone knew he was a tremendous talent. However nobody could have imagined it would take 18 seasons for the man nicknamed “Jumbo Joe” to appear in the Cup final.

In the world of hockey, there aren’t many 6 foot 4, 222 pound natural centers who command the ice like Thornton.

For god sakes just Google his newest installment to the playoff beard phenomena. This guy is the man.

While his ability to grow insane facial hair has never been questioned. His ability to lead has. Striped of his captaincy last off season following a campaign that saw the Sharks miss the playoffs for the first time since his arrival. This, coming off multiple playoff conquests that either ended too soon or in back breaking fashion.

It was a foregone conclusion last September that the Sharks were most likely bound to struggle and perhaps miss the playoffs again. New coach, new captain, but most importantly a new goalie.

That’s not a cocktail titled success.

Through it all the Sharks have been tested, and have succeeded. Decimating their opponents in the playoffs. Major contributions coming from newly appointed captain Joe Pavelski, standout defenseman Brent Burns and of course “Jumbo Joe”.

People tend to have grudes against teams like Chicago, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay because they enjoy a lot of success. But when it comes to San Jose, they’re an all around likable team.

For years they’ve been synonymous with repeated playoff failure. In fact, every time you began to believe that this was the year, you were brought back to reality. The reality included watching San Jose implode on themselves in eerily similar fashions year in and year out.

Rob Blake, Dany Heatley, Jeremy Roenick, and Evgeni Nabokov have all been Sharks during Thorntons tenure and one by one failed to push San Jose over the hump.

So now you begin the understand, why?

What exactly?

How fantastic it is that San Jose has not just won their conference for the first time ever. But that it’s the franchises first trip to the finals. They are patiently awaiting either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Pittsburg Penguins who will play a game 7 tonight.

Whoever wins tonight will have more than a plateful of match ups that need attending to. San Jose can and will run 4 complete lines against their opposition. On top of that 3 pairings of defensemen and overwhelming confidence in a first time starter in net.

St. Louis threw everything they had at San Jose,  who in return embracing every blow and calculating the perfect counter punch. In the end, which subsequently was game 6 in San Jose. The Sharks were just too much to handle at home and the devastation was more than apparent on the faces of the Blues. St. Louis has some difficult decisions to make come July 4th.

Long, turbulent and emotional, the ride has been for Joe Thornton. Aside from many successes in international tournament play, this is Thorton’s biggest task.

Any veteran will tell you that when you get to the finals, the mindset always has been ‘I must win now because I may never get here again.’ As a pose to a younger mans ideology which may be, ‘we’re young and talented, we’ll be back for sure.’

My personal bias may be interjecting a bit here. But Joe Thornton is the man the casual hockey fan should be rooting for. All around class act, can put a puck on your stick from the parking lot, future first ballot hall of famer, and is a man seeking his first Stanley Cup Championship. How can’t you love him?

Don’t forget there is still a game 7 tonight between Pittsburg and Tampa Bay. But I’ve already found my team.

Go Sharks.