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Sharks to face Blackhawks in Western Conference Finals

The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks
The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks
AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The number one seeded San Jose Sharks will face the number two seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.

Chicago defeated the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, eliminating Roberto Luongo's team in six games. 

The Sharks have been resting since defeating the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday to win the series in five games. 

The Blackhawks are a skilled team, defeating both the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks to reach the WCF. 

Chicago reached the WCF last year as well, but fell to the Detroit Red Wings. 

San Jose will have to use their long rest to their advantage.  The Sharks must rest their bodies, but also not allow the break to take the "edge" off of their game.

The Blackhawks will statistically be the best team San Jose has faced this postseason.  The Chicago forwards are more lethal than Colorado's young lineup, and Detroit's aging scorers.  The Blackhawks have a solid blue line that could potentially create problems for the San Jose forwards. 

However, Chicago lacks a true quality goaltender.  Antti Niemi has been able to stick with his team all the way until the WCF, but the Sharks will need to concentrate on beating him to win the series. 

Nabby will have to stand on his head to steal a Sharks' victory.  The defense will need to make crisp outlet passes, and minimize defensive turnovers.  The forwards will need to step up, and put the puck in the net.  The top line needs to continue to put the big goals in.  The second line needs to act like a first line, with Joe Pavelski earning more heroics. 

The way the Sharks have been playing, Chicago can be handled.  San Jose is only four wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals.


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