It took one trip to Las Vegas early in the season for the San Jose Sharks to realize that the fast start to the season for the expansion Golden Knights was no fluke.
So it should come as little surprise to the Sharks that they have to get past Vegas in the second round of the playoffs starting Thursday night to reach the Western Conference final for the fourth time in the past nine seasons.cheap nfl jerseys from china
”I remember playing them in November and walking in and going, ‘This isn’t a mirage. These guys are for real,”’ Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. ”Their game was real, the way they came at you, the tenacity they played with, the depth they have. That opinion for me hasn’t changed in any of the games we played them, and it went back as far as November when we played them early. Great test for us.”
The Golden Knights brought relentless speed to a Pacific Division that had been known in recent years for heavy teams that thrived on wearing down opponents with physical play.
The group of castoffs raced past the rest of the division for 109 points in the regular season and then swept a Los Angeles Kings team that always seemed to be a step behind in the first round of the playoffs.
”We played them a couple of times early and you figured out this team is for real and will be tough for years to come,” Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said. ”They have great speed and the coach has them going hard. We’re going to have to match that every shift.”
The Sharks have embraced the league’s transition to a faster game in recent years, making it a priority following a loss in the Stanley Cup Final to Pittsburgh two years ago.
The transformation really took hold this season after top-line center Joe Thornton went out with a knee injury in January and the Sharks acquired Evander Kane and Eric Fehr the following month, nfl jerseys cheap china adding both speed and depth to the forward group that should test the unproven Golden Knights.
”I would assume it’ll be a bit more fast-paced a bit, maybe a little more open hockey,” Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”I think LA was a team that played well defensively, but they don’t create as much offensively. With these guys we’re going to have to do a little more up and down.”