The Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks is a first-round playoff matchup. They met last season in the 2017-18 playoffs but in the second round. With that said they should be accustomed to playing each other.
Both teams didn’t finish the regular season by tearing up their opponents. The Sharks were a dismal 3-6-1 over their 10 games including a five-game losing streak. The Golden Knights weren’t much better at 3-5-2 including losing their last two games.
Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks
The Sharks had 101 points during the 2018-19 season carrying a 46-27-9 record and a goal differential of +28. They finished with just one more point than last season. The Golden Knights had 93 points with a 43-32-7 record and a goal differential of +19. They came in with 16 fewer points than their inaugural season.
Statistically, Clubs Are Comparable
The Sharks were the second highest scoring team in the NHL with 3.52 goals scored a game. The Golden Knights were 13th with 3.00 goals a game. The Vegas team allowed 2.78 goals a game while the San Jose club surrendered 3.15 goals a game.
The Sharks were successful 23.6 percent of the time on the man advantage while the Golden Knights were trailing at 16.8 percent. On the penalty kill, both teams are evenly matched with San Jose holding an 80.8 percent kill success and the Vegas club at 80.9 percent.
Both teams are excellent in the faceoff circle. San Jose has a 50.3 percent success ratio as opposed to Vegas having a 50.4 percent.
Here is where the series may be decided as it is in almost every Stanley Cup playoff series. The Golden Knights just got their star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury back with just two games remaining in the season after he suffered an injury sidelining him for 10 games.
With a 35-21-5 record and a .913 save percentage to go along with 2.51 goals against average, the Golden Knights hope they have the advantage in net. Fleury threw in eight shutouts for good measure.
His opponent at the other end of the ice will be Martin Jones. He gathered a 36-19-5 record carrying a .896 save percentage and 2.94 goals against average. He added three shutouts to his resume during the season.
The good news for the San Jose Sharks is that their star defenceman Erik Karlsson appeared in the last game of the season after missing 17 games due to a groin injury. They also sport a pretty talented defenceman by the name of Brent Burns. This one-two punch gives the Sharks the advantage on the blueline.
The Vegas Golden Knights have Shea Theodore who had 12 goals, 25 assists. Nate Schmidt who collected nine goals, 21 assists, and Colin Miller with three goals, 26 assists. Offensively from the blueline, the Sharks have Burns who had 83 points on his own along with Karlsson with 45 points.
Of course, Vegas is better defensively but can’t match up on scoring from the blueline.
The San Jose Sharks can put the puck in the net. They have the luxury of four 30-goal scorers in Tomas Hertl (35), Joe Pavelski (38), Evander Kane(30), and Timo Meier (30). Hertl has 11 power play tallies while the pesky Pavelski had 12. Stopping the Sharks attack will be vital if the Golden Knights intend to stay past the first round. Stopping the Sharks successful man-advantage won’t be easy since they have so many options.
The Golden Knights are not nearly as deadly offensively this season. They have not one player who broke the 30-goal mark and that may be their undoing. William Karlsson really fell from grace from last season’s phenomenal scoring display. He only had 24 goals as opposed to 43 last year.
Jonathan Marchessault went from 27 goals, 48 assists last season to 25 goals, 34 assists this year. He led the team with just 59 points. It looks like if the Golden Knights want to get past the Sharks they won’t be able to outscore them, they must out-defend them.
The Golden Knights are not the Golden Knights of last season. The magic dust has worn off and they will need to play some skilled hockey to get by the San Jose Sharks.
Fleury didn’t look unstoppable since his return and he can be beaten. The Sharks need to score at will and with the blueline bombers like Karlsson and Burns shooting mortars at Fleury, they will prevail in this series. Add in that they have the home-ice advantage and Karlsson back even if he is rusty and it appears like the Sharks have the advantage.
San Jose Sharks in Six.