Hello SF Bulls Fans! The San Francisco Bulls’ playoff run may have come to an end, but playoff hockey in the NHL has just begun. This means much to the dismay of my wife I am working on my 2nd playoff beard in less than a month. I have been a die-hard San Jose Sharks fan for the past 20 years and I am super excited that they have made the playoffs once again. As everyone knows, the Sharks will face off against the Vancouver Canucks. The series starts on Wednesday in Vancouver. Although most “hockey experts” are predicting that the Sharks will lose the series here are my reasons why I think the Sharks can beat the Canucks and advance to the next round.

vancouver-vs-sharks-headerOver the past month I have watched the Sharks develop into a team that is skating faster and hitting harder. In years past, both of these have been issues for the Sharks in the playoffs. Teams have skated circles around them and have muscled their way to victory. Players like Brad Stuart, Scott Hannan, Raffi Torres, Brett Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic give them strength on the blue line and up front that they haven’t had in past playoff series.

This Sharks team doesn’t give up. There were plenty of games during this season when they were down two or three goals but the team kept working hard and were able to come back with clutch goals that gave them much needed points. Players like Jumbo, Logan, Burnzie, Pavs, Havlat, and Marleau have had their share of timely goals this past season. They will need this grit and determination to make it out of this round.

This year the Sharks are the underdogs. For most of the past 10 years they have entered the playoffs as a favorite to win it all…….and we all know how that has turned out for them. This Sharks team should embrace the underdog role and use it to their advantage. The experts don’t think they stand much of a chance. Let’s go into Vancouver and give this team hell.

Finally, the top reason I think the Sharks will advance to the next round is because of Antti Niemi. The teams with great goaltending win in the playoffs. Nemo has had an amazing year and has single handedly won game after game for them. Without him they would not be in the playoffs. If Niemi continues his hot streak into Vancouver then the Sharks have a real chance of beating this team. Think back on the past 2 winners of the Stanley Cup. Jonathan Quick and Tim Thomas took the reins and led their teams to the top.

Expect this to be a tough and brutal series but I am confident that the Sharks can win. My prediction is Sharks take the series in 6.

What are your thoughts on the Stanley Cup playoffs? Who’s with me? I’d love to hear from you. raudelw@sfbulls.com