Going into the Stanley Cup Finals this year, the San Jose Sharks had just one player who had played in a game of that caliber before: 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus. Zubrus has been to the Finals twice in his career prior to this year. His first trip was as an 18-year old rookie playing for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997, and the second came in 2012 as a member of the New Jersey Devils. In those 2012 finals, Zubrus’ head coach was his now current head coach Peter DeBoer. Now on his third time around, Zubrus is hoping for better luck with the Sharks.
The Sharks picked up and officially signed Zubrus on November 24th of this year, and he has been an “extremely welcomed addition to the San Jose Sharks” according to fellow teammate Chris Tierney, per CSN Bay Area. Tierney went on to say: “It’s funny that an older guy like him, you expect him to be resting more, but he might be one of the hardest working guys on the team. “It’s nice to have that veteran guy to help push me along and let me know. [If] I don’t want to work out after a Game 7, he’s there to help push me.” With such high praise from his teammates, it must mean that Zubrus is actually a valuable piece to the puzzle in San Jose’s Finals run this year.
Zubrus is a key asset for the Sharks because he has a huge frame and knows how to use it to protect the puck. He has great defensive awareness and the versatility to play any role on a hockey team. Standing at 6’5’’, he can be a very intimidating player on the ice to go up against. Zubrus has a goal and an assist in the ten games he’s played this post-season which may not sound like much, but his on and off-ice contributions have been more than enough to help San Jose. He played 9:45 in Game 1 in Pittsburgh but was replaced in Game 2 by Matthew Nieto. In Game 3 Zubrus played in place of the injured Tomas Hertl – skating on the fourth line with Nick Spaling and Tommy Wingels, while Melker Karlsson took Hertl’s spot on line one. Zubrus had 9:15 ice time in Game 3. He also played in the Game 4 loss but had only 5:10 ice time.
Zubrus has one goal and one assist in these playoffs for the Sharks, but all it takes is one outstanding performance to change the series for San Jose. He is expected to be in the lineup again on Thursday night if Hertl is still not up to it.