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Sharks will win first Stanley Cup title, experts say

17 of 21 from NHL.com, NHL Network pick San Jose to defeat Penguins in Final

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The experts from NHL.com and NHL Network have made their Stanley Cup Final picks, and the San Jose Sharks are an overwhelming favorite to win it all.

Of the 21 analysts, 17 picked the Sharks to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Final, which begins at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). NHL Network analyst Mike Rupp and NHL.com writers Dan Rosen, Matt Cubeta and Robert Laflamme have the Penguins winning the series.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski is the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Thirteen of the 21 experts selected the San Jose captain.

Here are our picks:

 

Kevin Weekes, NHL Network Analyst

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 6

San Jose's power, skill and speed will be too much for Pittsburgh.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Scott Stevens, NHL Network Analyst

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 6

I really like the systems San Jose coach Peter DeBoer has put in place. They just may be the best forechecking team in the League.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

Video: Stanley Cup Final Preview

 

Brian Boucher, NHL Network Analyst

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 7

This will be a battle of two teams with star players and great depth players throughout their lineups. The loss of Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley may prove to be big as this series wears on. The work and tenacity of the Sharks forwards eventually wins this back-and-forth battle.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Brian Lawton, NHL Network Analyst

Conference final record: 2-0

Overall: 8-6

 

Sharks in 6

Pittsburgh and San Jose are excellent possession teams that have averaged nearly seven goals a game of combined offense in the postseason, well above the regular-season League average. The loss of Daley slows the Penguins offense down and hurts their defensive cause. The Sharks are healthy and deeper on the back end led by veterans Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Paul Martin, who played for the Penguins from 2010-15. The Sharks continue to possess the puck while they roll on offensively and defensively in clinching the Stanley Cup victory on home ice.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Dave Reid, NHL Network Analyst

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 6-8

 

Sharks in 6

Speed will be the theme for the Stanley Cup Final, but in the end it will be the depth of the Sharks defense that allows them to lift the Stanley Cup.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Mike Rupp, NHL Network Analyst

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 8-6

 

Penguins in 7

Pittsburgh's speed will be too much for San Jose. The Penguins have the star power. Look for Sidney Crosby to win a game for Pittsburgh and for Evgeni Malkin to win another.

Conn Smythe winner: Phil Kessel, Penguins

 

Dan Rosen, NHL.com Senior Writer

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 9-5

 

Penguins in 7

Home-ice advantage has mattered so far in the playoffs for the Penguins, who have clinched all three series with wins at Consol Energy Center. Crosby will lead the way, and rookie goalie Matt Murray will be good enough to help the Penguins win the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in their history and first time since 2009.

Conn Smythe winner: Crosby

 

 

Bill Price, NHL.com Editor in Chief

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 7-7

 

Sharks in 6

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau each has waited his entire career to get to the Stanley Cup Final and isn't going to come away empty-handed. The Penguins' lack of depth on defense will hurt them. The Cup-winning goal will be scored on a Pavelski deflection.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Shawn Roarke, NHL.com Director of Editorial

Conference final record: 2-0

Overall: 12-2

 

Sharks in 6

Pavelski is playing out of his mind, leading the playoffs with 13 goals, four more than anyone on the Penguins. The Sharks also possess a dominant collection of defensemen, headlined by Burns, a Norris Trophy finalist, and Vlasic, a shutdown specialist. The Penguins have not faced a defense as deep or talented as this one. Plus, the Sharks have the feel-good story of Marleau and Thornton each appearing in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his 18-season career. That is a tough combination of factors for the Penguins to counter.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Nick Cotsonika, NHL.com Columnist

Conference final record: 0-2

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 7

Each team has star power and depth. Each has speed and wants to take away time and space to slow down its opponent. But the Sharks' top players are producing at an impressive rate, and they play a hard, heavy game, keeping the puck in the offensive end. The Penguins will miss Daley.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski.

 

Amalie Benjamin, NHL.com Staff Writer

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 8-6

 

Sharks in 5

It finally is the year for Thornton, Marleau and the rest of the formerly underachieving Sharks. The West has been better than the East for a while, and it doesn't stop now, with the rolling Sharks making quick work of the Penguins.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Tom Gulitti, NHL.com Staff Writer

Conference final record: 2-0

Overall: 7-7

 

Sharks in 6

It feels like a year of destiny in San Jose with Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski and Co. finally getting the Sharks to their first Stanley Cup Final. Unlike the Penguins' Eastern Conference opponents, the Sharks can match their scoring depth; they have eight players in double figures in points and seven with at least five goals. (The Penguins have eight players in double figures in points and five with at least five goals.)

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Mike Morreale, NHL.com Staff Writer

Conference final record: 2-0

Overall: 11-3

 

Sharks in 7

The Sharks' underrated defense, led by Burns, Vlasic, Martin and goaltender Martin Jones, limited Los Angeles Kings center Tyler Toffoli (31 regular-season goals), Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (33) and St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (40) to a combined three goals in 18 games in the playoffs.

Conn Smythe winner: Burns

Video: SAP Cup Final Infographics Series Preview: SJS PIT

 

Brian Compton, NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 6

They've finally found a way to reach the Stanley Cup Final, now the Sharks must find a way to win four more games. Their top players are performing and their goaltending has been solid. If their defensemen can shut down the Penguins' top players like they did against their first three postseason opponents, the Sharks will be Stanley Cup champions for the first time.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Adam Kimelman, NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 7

There were doubts the Sharks could defeat the Kings in the first round. There were doubts about the Sharks entering Game 7 of the second round against the Predators. And there were doubts the Sharks could get past the Blues in the Western Conference Final. There will be those who doubt the Sharks can defeat the Penguins, but I've seen enough to have no doubts that the Sharks will win the Cup

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

David Satriano, NHL.com Staff Writer

Conference final record: 0-2

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 6

Pavelski and Couture lead a potent offense, Burns and Vlasic shut down opponents, and Jones has been strong all playoffs. It's been a long time coming, but Thornton and Marleau will finally hoist the Cup.

Conn Smythe winner: Pavelski

 

Pete Jensen, NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Conference final record: 2-0

Overall: 9-5

 

Sharks in 6

Murray has been extremely reliable and proven he's the Penguins' goalie of the future, but he's about to face an offensive beast he has not yet seen at this level. Pavelski, Burns, Couture and Vlasic will become household names on this national stage, and the Sharks' speed, physicality and commitment to defense will carry them past the equally deep Penguins. Thornton, one of the great distributors of this era, will play his way to long-awaited glory.

Conn Smythe winner: Thornton

 

Dave Stubbs, NHL.com Columnist

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 8-6

 

Sharks in 7

It wouldn't be right for the Sharks to make it to their first Stanley Cup Final and win in a rout. But Marleau and Thornton aren't going to let this slip through their fingers, not after having played a combined 2,778 regular-season NHL games -- the equivalent of almost 34 full seasons -- to finally get to within four victories of winning the Cup.

Conn Smythe winner: Couture

 

Arpon Basu, LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

Conference final record: 2-0

Overall: 10-4

 

Sharks in 6

The forward groups basically cancel each other out at even strength. But I like San Jose's group of defensemen from top to bottom better than Pittsburgh's without Daley, and the Sharks power play has been much better over the past two rounds, clicking at a 28.6 percent rate compared to 16.3 percent for the Penguins.

Conn Smythe winner: Burns

 

Robert Laflamme, LNH.com Senior Writer

Conference final record: 1-1

Overall: 11-3

 

Penguins in 7

I've got to stick with my prediction at the start of the playoffs, so I'm taking the Penguins as Stanley Cup champions even though the Sharks are very impressive. Pavelski might very well win the Conn Smythe Trophy in a losing cause.

Conn Smythe winner: Kris Letang, Penguins

 

Matt Cubeta, NHL.com Director - International

Conference final record: 0-2

Overall: 8-6

 

Penguins in 6

With Murray back in goal feeling more confident than ever and playing behind a shutdown defensive team that limited the Tampa Bay Lightning to 25 shots per game in the Eastern Conference Final, the Penguins just might be able to slow down the Sharks. Add in three offensive lines led by superstars Crosby and Malkin that are capable of scoring at any given moment, and it's realistic to see the Penguins winning their first Stanley Cup since 2009.

Conn Smythe winner: Crosby

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