The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin today taking up with match-ups that ended last year’s season. Detroit will be avenging last season’s 4-3 seven-game playoff defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Detroit was in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 years but made it into the field when Ottawa beat Boston on the last day of the season; the Red Wings clinched third place in the Atlantic Division despite losing to the New York Rangers the same day. Tampa Bay will be missing injured Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman.
Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost 4-1 in the first round last year, will play the same New York Rangers; New York Islanders face the Florida Panthers; 2015 reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Black Hawks will try to stave off the St Louis Blues; Philadelphia Flyers face the regular-season Eastern Conference champion and President’s Trophy winner Washington Capitals; Western Conference champion Dallas Stars open against the Minnesota Wild; the Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks face off against the Nashville Predators.
The San Jose Sharks will face the L.A. Kings for the fourth time in the past six seasons to open the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sharks missed the playoffs last year and will be looking to capitalize on the faltering L.A. Kings who relinquished first place to the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division in the waning stages of the season.
The series will begin Thursday April 14 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Kings will host the Sharks again on Saturday night before the Sharks head home for two games scheduled for Monday April 18 and Wednesday April 20 with game times scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
All seven Canadian NHL teams (Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg) did not make the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Five of the seven, including 2015 Atlantic Division champion Montreal Canadiens, were in last year’s playoffs,
Regular season leaders: Alex “Great 8” Ovechkin, after getting a hat trick on the last day of the season, scored the most goals with 50 distancing himself from Patrick Kanes’ second-best 46. Blues goalie Brian Elliott had the best save percentage sporting a .930 while Washington’s goalie Braden Holtby had the most wins with 48, tying an NHL record. Chicago’s Patrick Kane had 106 points to lead the NHL.
This past week it was announced the Sharks Foundation “Player of the Year” was Joe Thornton as voted on by Bay area media members. Thornton posted 81 points (19 goals and 62 assists) in 81 games this season. Joe Pavelski won the award the last two seasons.
Joonas Donskoi was voted as the Sharks “Rookie of the Year”. The 23-year old Donskoi recorded 36 points (11 goals and 25 assists) in 74 games this season. Donskoi currently ranks 10th amongst NHL rookies in points.
Brent Burns was voted as the winner of the Sharks “Fan Favorite Award” presented by Enterprise Exotic Car Collection. The award is determined by fan voting on social media and sjsharks.com.