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Stanley Cup Final Preview: a quick look at the San Jose Sharks breakout

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The Penguins and Sharks are set to square off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, so we thought we'd take a quick look at some of the things the Sharks might do when breaking out of their own defensive zone.

San Jose Sharks v St Louis Blues - Game Five Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With a few days in between Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final and the start of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at some of the systemic nuances that the San Jose Sharks use breaking out their own zone. I also wanted to compare them to the three types of breakouts we've seen from the Penguins first three opponents. The types of breakout that the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, and Tampa Bay Lightning used were all very different from one another, so I am personally curious to see what type of system that the San Jose Sharks are using, as I admittedly do not get to see them play as much as I would like.

Flashback to the Past Three Opponents

Nothing super in-depth to review here, just a quick look back.

We remember the New York Rangers using that diagonal breakout pass from a defenseman that was aimed at hitting a winger in stride where the blue line meets the half wall.

And then we saw the Capitals working like a 5-man unit breaking out with two forwards weaving to the strong side, and then the defenseman moving the puck up the weak side.

And we saw the Tampa Bay Lightning use the long stretch pass, especially using Victor Hedman to execute it.

Jesse Marshall from the Pensblog had a great feature yesterday that broke down in detail what Mike Sullivan and the Penguins did to successfully neutralize that stretch pass from being successful in the final two games of the series.

An Example of The San Jose Sharks Breakout

Disclaimer: This is in no way an attempt at a full explanation of what the Sharks do regularly, I was just looking to find a quick example of what they do that can be successful.

So, the San Jose Sharks are a quick team. I think it will benefit the Penguins that they're having come off playing the Lightning most recently, and not a team like the Rangers or Capitals. It took the Penguins a game and some change to get adjusted to Tampa Bay's speed, and I think the Pens will be ready for it.

This play here, just one minute or so into Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final can show how quickly a team with speed and skill can turn a routine puck retrieval in their own end to a scoring chance in your end.

This play starts with St. Louis trying to get the puck deep, and Brenden Dillon goes back for the retrieval.

He makes a simple play to Roman Polak, who gives the puck a half-slap to the corner where it comes out to Joel Ward.

Joel Ward then uses time and space to his advantage. He could've played the puck up ice quickly to Chris Tierney, but would've risked a turnover. Instead, he skates with it while he has space in front of him.

Ward then uses a short stretch pass, looking to hit Brenden Dillon at the blue line, who headed up ice immediately after he initially played the puck at the beginning of the sequence.

Dillon then also takes advantage of the time and space he has and tries to hit Melker Karlsson in front of the net for a redirect.

Karlsson does not end up being able to redirect the puck or get it on net from the opportunity.

Though no legitimate scoring chance came from this play, it just goes to show you how quickly things can turn from a simple retrieval to a scoring chance.

In a matter of nine seconds, the puck goes from being chipped off of Brenden Dillon's stick to flying past the net where Melker Karlsson was trying to redirect it.

Speed and skill. Should be a fun series. You can get more heavily-invested Sharks insight from Fear The Fin, too, of course.