The San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle for the Stanley Cup starting on Monday night.
The Sharks are in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time after they got by the St. Louis Blues in a classic seven-game Western Conference Finals.
San Jose Head Coach Pete DeBoer is making his second appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, with his first appearance coming with the Devils in 2012.
DeBoer said of what this means to this franchise and the San Jose community to be at this stage of the playoffs for the first time, “There’s a sense. I talked about it yesterday. First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around, 25-year season ticketholders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying. There were some moments there after where the gravity of what they’ve been through and how important this is to them. But again, those things are for later.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game. Every series is the same: it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight,” said deBoer.
On if there is anything special he’s going to say to his before the game, DeBoer said, “No, I don’t think so. Again, I think our approach all along has been business as usual. I think the guys have realized as we got through the L.A. series, as we got through Nashville, Game 7, as we got through a really tough St. Louis team, even at the different points of adversity facing elimination against Nashville, we didn’t change. There was no magic speeches. There was no big line combination changes or roster changes or changes to our system. There’s a belief in what we do and the people we have. We’re going to keep rolling that out until someone hands us a Cup or tells us to go home.”
The Sharks and Penguins are led by goalies who got their first playoff experience this year, San Jose’s Martin Jones and Pittsburgh’s Matt Martin.
DeBoer said of remembering a time when he saw two goalies who were in their first playoff experience go to the Cup Final?, and if he thinks this is a reflection of how good these guys are or is this a trend, “There’s a lot smarter people than me out there to figure out whether it’s a trend. But it is pretty incredible. You got two guys with the experience these two guys have. I think they’re special. I don’t think it’s a common thing. I don’t think you’re going to see it yearly. I think it’s rare.
“But there’s been many instances in the history of hockey where a young goaltender has led a team to a Stanley Cup. I think it’s all belief. When our guys go in the room and talk to Marty Jones or play in front of him, they’re not looking at him like he’s a rookie or a 22-year-old or a guy that’s played only so many games. They look at him like he’s a seasoned veteran because he carries himself that way.
I don’t think it’s a factor for us,” said DeBoer.
One key contributor for the Sharks is defenseman Paul Martin, who used to play for the Devils from 2003-10 and the Penguins from 2o10-15 before joining the Sharks this season.
DeBoer said of what Martin has meant to this team and how he would describe his role in the locker room, “Paul’s great. He’s so understated as a player. His personality is the same, but there’s so much substance to his play and as a person. I can’t tell you how important he’s been, one, on the ice, working with Brent Burns, his veteran leadership, his composure. And two, just the way he carries himself around the room. He’s a classy guy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s fit in seamlessly with our group. We wouldn’t be here without him.”