It has been a long time coming, but we’re finally here. On Memorial Day while Americans are barbecuing and drunkenly arguing with neighbors before tenderly embracing, the Stanley Cup Final will begin. It’s a matchup for the ages: Sharks versus Penguins. Somewhere an NBC exec is weeping and hugging a picture of the Bruins-Blackhawks final to their chest.
But enough of that. Let’s talk about the matchup:
San Jose Sharks: The grizzled veterans. The bearded menace. Historically an underdog of their own making. This is the team’s first ever Cup Final, which means this is already a historic event. Their beards alone should strike fear in the hearts of their opponents.
Pittsburgh Penguins: After starting the season fairly abysmally, the Penguins roared back to return to the Final for the third time with this particular core roster, minus Jordan Staal (Who? He was a big deal about four years ago, don’t worry about it). But do they have the GRIT and the LEADERSHIP to make it through? Not according to Mike Milbury.
Joe Thornton–I mean Joe Pavelski: No hate to Pavelski, who is a proud American and a worthy captain, but honestly the fact that Joe Thornton no longer wears the C for the Sharks is still confusing to me.
Sidney Crosby: A young man with a lot to learn from players like Jonathan Drouin. Either the best player in the world, or complete garbage depending on who you ask on what day.
Martin Jones: A charming young man traded from the Kings to the Bruins and then immediately from the Bruins to the Sharks in one of the funniest three way trades in recent history. Jones goes from the Kings to their division rival, helps knock them out of the playoffs, and also the Bruins didn’t even make the playoffs. It’s hard not to root for him if you hate the Bruins and/or the Kings.
Matt Murray: Possibly a time traveler? It is unclear. It may explain how an allegedly 22 (which he just turned on Wednesday) year old rookie goalie is leading the Penguins through the chaos of the playoffs. Good luck young sprout.
Will the Sharks finally overcome their reputation for choking? They overcame the Kings, their traditional white whale, and made it all the way to the Final. But can a team with Thornton and Marleau get it done??? (This is a stupid question.)
Does Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin/etc suck? No.
How is Paul Martin doing? Hopefully well. The Sharks have been playing him with Brent Burns, and so far neither his beard nor his snakes (not a euphemism) have eaten the former Minnesota Mr. Hockey. His hair is not quite as flow-licious as it was when he was seventeen, but he is still Minnesota Strong.
Who is Bryan Rust? Are any of us actually sure? Is he sure? Stay tuned.
Will Joe Thornton score four goals in one game? We can only hope.