Most of the matchups are set for the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and there are a few certainties that go with that, like how the Vegas Golden Knights will be taking on the San Jose Sharks in what should be a doozy of a series.
The schedule for the second round has yet to be released.
The Golden Knights hold the edge on paper, at least somewhat. Vegas has scored more goals per game in the regular season, plus they’ve allowed fewer goals against and boast a better power play.
But the Sharks own the Golden Knights on the penalty kill and are better in the faceoff circle, which could prove a driver of possession numbers. And if San Jose can get motoring with the puck, they could give Vegas something to worry about.
The Sharks can score, and they have a revitalized Evander Kane leading the way. He had three goals in the first round, while Logan Couture had five points. They’ll have to make do without Joe Thornton, who’s been ruled out for at least Game One on account of a knee injury.
Both teams swept their first round opposition and will have had plenty of rest leading up to the second round, but that can also serve up some problems. Teams can be too relaxed going into the post-season and momentum can be hard to get back. With both Vegas and San Jose riding major waves through their opponents, this series could take a while to get going.
On the other hand, the Golden Knights know how to pick up the tempo. Speed was THE factor against the Los Angeles Kings, who came out looking lethargic and never could keep up with the quick Vegas attack. The Golden Knights rocked the transition game and even played to the Kings’ physical level, which is something they should be able to replicate against the Sharks.
Both Vegas and San Jose will benefit from stellar goaltending. Martin Jones was impeccable in the Sharks’ net and he faced an awful lot of Anaheim rubber in the first round. He still came up with a .970 save percentage, second to Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury.
While the Sharks have more star power, the Golden Knights know how to turn weaknesses into strengths. They didn’t have a single player score more than once in the first round and would love for someone like William Karlsson to break out. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but thus far Vegas has been able to make it work.
This should be a compelling series, as both clubs will be fresh and ready to rumble. Physical hockey is on the menu, as is some game-breaking goaltending. And if Karlsson or Jonathan Marchessault can pop in some pucks, so much the better for the Golden Knights.