May 25, 2016: San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) center Tomas Hertl (48) with center Joe Thornton (19) celebrate Pavelski's goal during the first period of the Western Conference Finals - Game 6 between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues at SAP Center in San Jose CA. Final score- Sharks 5, Blues 2. (Photo by Allan Hamilton/ICON Sportswire)
May 25, 2016: San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) center Tomas Hertl (48) with center Joe Thornton (19) celebrate Pavelski’s goal during the first period of the Western Conference Finals – Game 6 between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues at SAP Center in San Jose CA. Final score- Sharks 5, Blues 2. (Photo by Allan Hamilton/ICON Sportswire)

The Stanley Cup Final is set to begin on Memorial Day in Pittsburgh. The home team has not been to a Stanley cup final since 2009, but history has shown that the Penguins are most dangerous on the NHL’s biggest stage. San Jose are the new kids on the block when it comes to Stanley cup appearances, as this is the first in franchise history, but despite lack of experience in a Finals series, the Sharks look stronger than in years past. This year’s Stanley Cup Finals should prove to be an exciting one.

Stanley Cup Veterans

10 May 2016: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates after right wing Phil Kessel (81) (not pictured) scored a goal during the second period of Game Six in the Second Round of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)
10 May 2016: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates after right wing Phil Kessel (81) (not pictured) scored a goal during the second period of Game Six in the Second Round of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

It has been seven years since the Penguins last Stanley Cup Finals appearance, and this season they look just as strong as the 2008-2009 series when they won last. A surplus of Stanley Cup experienced players come to mind when looking at the Penguins’ roster with Crosby, Letang, Kessel, Kunitz, and Malkin all sporting the yellow and black sweaters. Team captain Sydney Crosby has not missed a step these playoffs, and his 6 goals & 15 points shows that the captain is Finals ready. Another improvement for the Penguins is the return of defenseman Kris Letang who will face San Jose’s top-line. Pittsburgh looks ready to go for Game 1, but will have a fight on their hands coming from San Jose.

New Kids on the Block

The San Jose Sharks have made the Stanley Cup Finals, and no, this is not a joke. The Sharks finally look like a team that can go all the way and not fall into their tradition of leaving each season empty-handed. After a great 2016 season, the Sharks managed clinch the third seed in the Pacific Division. The Sharks outlasted the rest of their California counterparts (The Ducks and Kings), and hard-nosed hockey has landed them as the co-headliners for the NHL’s main event. San Jose is backed by the blue-line presence of Brent Burns and the strong chemistry of Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. The main advantage for the Sharks is their chemistry.

May 3, 2016: San Jose Sharks winger Joe Pavelski (8) is shown during game three of the semi-final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks, held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire)
May 3, 2016: San Jose Sharks winger Joe Pavelski (8) is shown during game three of the semi-final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks, held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire)

Pavelski, Thornton, Couture, and Marleau have a strong relationship and San Jose has become one of the top-scoring teams of the Playoffs. Burns also makes a difference offensively from the blue-line and hammers pucks to the net causing tip-in opportunities. For the first time in years, the Sharks look strong all-around the ice.

Sharks have the Edge in Goal

The Sharks are led in goal by former Kings back-up Martin Jones this season, and Jones has definitely held up his end of the bargain. He has posted 2.12 goals against during the playoffs and has been nearly unstoppable. The Sharks will stay with Jones going into Game 1, but are still confident that back-up James Reimer can take over in case of an emergency. The Penguins have been plagued with goalie issues this season. For most of the regular season, Pittsburgh was carried by starter Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been the Penguins go-to man for years. Starting the playoffs, Fleury suffered an injury, forcing the Penguins to put Matt Murray between the pipes, and Murray has been lighting up the goal in his short tenure as the Penguins’ goalie. In this season’s playoffs he has recorded a .924 save percentage and he has shown that even in his young age(22 years-old) he has the potential to be a world class goalie. The question for Pittsburgh though, is if Fleury is healthy will he get back in net for the remainder of the series or will Murray keep his spot in the crease? Only time will tell.

May 30, 2016: Penguins players celebrate winning goal by Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino (13) during the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Stanley Cup playoff game at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh beat San Jose 3-2. (Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire).
May 30, 2016: Penguins players celebrate winning goal by Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino (13) during the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Stanley Cup playoff game at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh beat San Jose 3-2. (Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire).

World-Class Series

This edition of the Stanley Cup Finals is looking to be one for the ages, and history has been made even before puck-drop in Game 1 because of the Sharks 1st time appearance. If the Sharks go one to raise the Cup, it will finish California’s Stanley Cup trifecta, and solidify the Golden State as hockey state. If Pittsburgh raises Lord Stanley’s Cup for the 4th time in team history, it will enshrine Canada’s golden boy, Sydney Crosby, into hockey history once again, making him a gold medalist and two-time Stanley Cup champ. Whichever way this series goes, it seems like it will shape up to be an exciting two weeks.

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Jacob Fisk
Jacob watched his first hockey game at 7-years-old and he fell in love with the sport. The fast pace, the blood, and the goal scoring; he couldn’t get enough. He is very excited to be witting and sharing his opinion about the sport that he loves so much. Growing up in southern California he became a diehard Anaheim Ducks fan, but the best part about hockey is no matter what teams are playing the sport is still interesting. Jacob is currently a journalism student at Long Beach State University. Jacob works for the university’s athletics online radio as the play-by-play broadcaster for both men’s and women’s volleyball.

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