Out West we go as the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers take on the team that lost in the Stanley Cup final a year ago.
San Jose Sharks (46-29-7) at Edmonton Oilers (47-26-9)
This match-up looks close on paper, and the Sharks have a lot of playoff cred due to last season’s long run, but this feels to me like the series we’ll look back at and think, “ah, the beginning of the end for the Thornton/Marleau era.” San Jose’s greybeard forwards are both 37, and one wonders how well they’ll hold up as the playoffs roll on after recently playing into June. Before we get too crazy, Thornton and Marleau and both still very good players, and this is still a team with other guys in their primes like Joe Pavelski (32), Brent Burns (32) and Logan Couture (28), but when you look at teams like the Oilers and Flames, who are just starting what should be long runs of competitive hockey, you wonder how long the Sharks will be able to keep pace.
Lines: Sharks +125, Oilers -145
5-on-5 FF%: 52
Martin Jones save percentage: .912
Goal differential: +20
Cam Talbot save percentage: .919
Goal differential: +35
The Sharks could well draw on their vast playoff experience and find a way to win, but the way their pace slowed toward the end of the season and given a lacklustre campaign by Martin Jones, I have a hard time seeing how they’ll overcome starting on the road against the MVP, a very good starting goalie and a vastly improved supporting cast in Edmonton. Oilers in 5.