Owen Nolan was there. One of the greatest players in franchise history, Nolan was in the Shark Tank for the Game 6 victory over St. Louis that sent the Sharks into their first Stanley Cup Final.
“It was fantastic,” the former captain said. “I’m so proud of the whole group, the players, the organization.”
A semi-regular at Sharks practices and games throughout the season – he’s now a Britannia Arms co-owner – Nolan see one dramatic difference in this Sharks team over previous versions: Depth.
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“They have a good mix of players, but a big part of it is they’ve got four (forward) lines chipping in with goals,” Nolan said. “They aren’t depending on one line to win. Everyone’s contributing.”
That depth, Nolan said, allows the Sharks to remain aggressive regardless of time and score.
“I like the way they don’t sit back when they’re up two goals,” he said. “They don’t just try to hold the lead. They look to score more.”
Former Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart, who lives in Denver, isn’t surprised this version reached the final round.
“I guess I’m more surprised that it hasn’t happened before,” Stuart said. “Once the playoffs got going, you could see this team was pretty locked in.
“They’ve looked confident. They’ve got the belief they can do it, and maybe that was something they were unsure of in the past … They’ve got the X factor.”
Will it be enough to defeat Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup final?
“I didn’t think the Pens would make it this far,” Stuart said. “I’m not sure I’d put money on either team.”
Nolan thinks his former team is the one to beat.
“The Penguins are no fluke,” he said. “But you watch the way the Sharks are playing, and I don’t see the Pens beating them.”