February 13, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; St. Louis Blues players celebrate their win in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. St. Louis won 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues - Gameday Preview February 19, 2013

ST. LOUIS BLUES

vs. SAN JOSE SHARKS

February 19th, 2013
Scottrade Center
St. Louis, Missouri
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: NBS Sports Network
Season Series is 0-0

The last time the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks met was in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last season.  The first of three meetings this year will bring the struggling Sharks back to Scottrade against a Blues team that seems to be on a roll.  Despite one of the best starts to a season, the Sharks have yet to win a game in February and have gone 0-4-3 in the seven games played so far this month.   The Blues on the other hand are coming into Tuesday night’s game on a three game winning streak that has been resting on the shoulders of the rookie netminder Jake Allen.

ST. LOUIS BLUES

(9-5-1, 2nd in Central)

The St. Louis Blues look to stretch their winning streak to four games tonight after returning home from a three game road trip.  The last time the Blues came home they had some serious issues and lost five in a row.  Coach Ken Hitchcock believes that the Blues have turned their game around and filled the obvious holes that were showing earlier this month.  With the Blues goaltending at the forefront of discussion, Jaroslav Halak is back in the lineup and warmed the bench as a backup to Jake Allen in Calgary.  With Brian Elliott being the odd man out, Hitchcock is going to ride Allen again tonight in St. Louis and is expected to give Halak the start in Colorado tomorrow night.

Key players 

Feb 11, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen (20) takes a shot against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at the Scottrade Center. The Kings defeated the Blues 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Steen has four goals and eight points in his last five games and continues to look strong on the ice.  With Steen having the hot hands against a struggling Sharks team, the Blues will lean on Steen to be the setup man for his linemates.  The one thing the Sharks are still doing well is keeping pucks out of the net so the Blues will need all the scoring they can get.

Others to watch 

Vladimir Tarasenko has been quiet through most of February, but I have a feeling that this is about to change.  When playing against a team that has not seen him before, Tarasenko has to know that he could be a target like he was in the game against the Canucks, but the Sharks will be more focused on trying to score goals than looking to see when Tarasenko is on the ice.  With Steen being hot, I think that Tarasenko has the potential to light the lamp tonight.  Only time will tell though.

Feb 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Tim Kennedy (46) is congratulated for scoring during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE SHARKS

(7-4-3, 3rd in Pacific)

The San Jose Sharks can’t seem to buy a win as of late, but a strong start to their season has kept them in the playoff race.  Coming into St. Louis the Sharks have a chip on their shoulder and will be looking for payback after last year’s early exit in the playoffs.  The Sharks have been off since Friday and will be well rested coming into tonight’s game.  Losing 4-1 against the Blackhawks on Friday, the Sharks hope tonight will be the night they can snap their losing streak.

Key players

February 09, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) in action during the first period against the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Antti Niemi is on fire for the Sharks.  Although the team might not be putting up wins in February, Niemi is keeping most of the shots he faces out of the net.  So far this season Niemi has managed to keep an incredible .930 save percentage and 1.94 goals-against-average in the 11 games he has been in this season.  Tonight should be no exception as Niemi and the Sharks will look to keep the Blues out of the scoring column.

Others to watch

Joe Thornton always has the ability to be a big player in a game.  With 15 points in 14 games this season, Thornton is coming into St. Louis looking to find his scoring touch again.  Blues fans love to hate big Joe as he was the one responsible for David Perron‘s long absence with a concussion during the past few seasons.  Luckily for Thornton, he seems to be encouraged by the hatred and seems to play very well in Scottrade Center.

Bottom line

With the Sharks hoping to pick up a win the Blues are going to have their work cut out for them.  If the Note can manage to play as well as they have in their past two games and put a full 60 minutes of effort into tonight’s game they should be able to pick up a win, but don’t count the Sharks out just yet.  This San Jose team is one with a lot of skill and they are going to give the Blues a run for their money.

Let’s hope the St. Louis Blues can bring home a win tonight.  LET’S GO BLUES!

-Alex Hodschayan

Tags: Game Preview San Jose Sharks St. Louis Blues