The 2016 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks features a battle between two young up-and-coming goaltenders, Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and San Jose’s Martin Jones. Both have given their teams what they have sorely lacked in previous years; steady, dependable, shut-down goaltending, the kind that wins Stanley Cups.
But Murray and Jones are playing for more than the NHL’s ultimate trophy. First, the winning goaltender will probably win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both goaltenders are the main reason why their teams are in the final.
And there is a long-term prize available. The winning goaltender and probably the loser too if he plays well will probably get an invitation to the training camp of Team Canada for the upcoming World Cup this autumn and future international hockey events down the road . So there is a good chance that Murray and Jones might end up being teammates later in the year or some time in the future. Murray could also be invited to the under-23 Team North America camp. Since the NHL plans to revive the World Cup as an event to played every four years, as well as the Olympics and other international events, good performances by both goaltenders in this final will build their reputation as reliable goaltenders in big games and earn them consideration for future international events.
Both goaltenders eliminated some formidable opposition to reach this point. Murray eliminated Pittsburgh nemesis New York Rangers featuring goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, then President’s Trophy winner Washington, and then Pittsburgh’s toughest Eastern Conference opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, though the series was marred by key injuries to Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop and star forward Steve Stamkos.
Jones was matched in the first round against former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, goaltender Jonathan Quick and the Sharks dispatched the favored Los Angeles Kings in only five games. Then came a match-up with the up-and-coming Nashville Predators and steady Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, which San Jose won in a 7-game thriller with Jones posting a crucial shut-out in the clinching game. The St. Louis Blues proved to be an easier foe with Jones posting back-to-back shut-outs to move the Sharks into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time ever.
So both goaltenders should be the key players for their teams. Any noticeable difference in performance between them could well prove to be the deciding element of this year’s final. This series could well be the start of a personal rivalry that could go on for years.