Feb 12, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center T.J. Oshie (74) takes a shot as San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) defends during the first period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

First Round Preview: Series Outlook


After going 1-2-2 in their final five games of the regular season, the St. Louis Blues fell out of contention for the President’s Trophy and slipped to the number two seed in the Western Conference. Even though the Bluenote failed to claim its second President’s Trophy in franchise history, the team proved many doubters wrong, garnering 109 points and the Central Division Championship. After a slow 5-6 start that resulted in a coaching change, the Blues turned their season around and put together an impressive record despite many key injuries throughout the season.

St. Louis will take on the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After four consecutive Pacific Division titles and a Presidents Trophy in 2008, the Sharks had one of their most disappointing regular seasons in recent memory. On paper, San Jose is stacked. They have been for the last five seasons, as they’ve been picked as preseason favorites to win the cup by many experts throughout the past half-decade. Despite the Sharks’ consistent regular season success in recent years, they have never reached the Stanley Cup. Because of their springtime failures, the Sharks have been labeled as chokers, a talented team that could never win a big playoff  game or series.

While it’s easy to write off this San Jose team because of the track record, San Jose enters the playoffs as underdogs for the first time in eight seasons. San Jose has succumbed to the pressure of being a high seed numerous times and, in this series, all of the pressure is on the second seed Blues. Without the favorite-label and the consequential pressure, this talented roster could potentially blossom this postseason. The Sharks are essentially playing with house money in this series, thus making them loose and relaxed for the first time in a playoff series. While the Blues dominated the regular season series with the Sharks, sweeping all four games, San Jose poses as a serious first round threat.

 

Tags: Central Division Featured Pacific Division Popular President's Trophy San Jose Sharks St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference