ST. LOUIS BLUES
vs. SAN JOSE SHARKS
March 12th, 2013
St. Louis, Missouri
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Midwest
Season Series is tied at 1-1
The St. Louis Blues will face the San Jose Sharks for the third and final time this season tonight in St. Louis. So far the series is split due to a 2-1 loss by the Blues at home on February 19th and the 4-3 win on March 9th in San Jose. With a closely contested Western Conference, every two points matter and both teams will be fighting to take home the win tonight.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
(13-10-2, 3rd in Central)
The St. Louis Blues started their recent road trip with two disappointing losses in Dallas and Los Angeles. After a change by GM Doug Armstrong that brought rookie goaltender Jake Allen back into the fold, the Blues seemed to regain their form once again. The loss in Los Angeles prompted Armstrong to make the change as the Blues had blown a 4-1 lead and the goaltending was a glaring issue. The Blues then seemed to get back on track with solid wins against the Coyotes and then the Sharks, but once again blew a lead against Anaheim to end the road stretch with a loss. The Blues still seem to be looking a bit lethargic on the ice and need to continue to give a full 60 minutes every night. The Blues may have Alex Steen back in the lineup tonight, according to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Vladimir Sobotka is one of those guys who doesn’t often get a lot of attention, but on Saturday he showed the San Jose Sharks why you have to know where he is on the ice. Sobotka managed to get his first career hat trick and looked very strong throughout the game. With five points in his last five games, Sobotka is looking the best he has in his career so make sure to keep an eye on number 17 tonight.
Patrik Berglund continues to lead the Blues in goals and, with four in his last five games, Berglund looks like the man with the golden touch in St. Louis. Paired with Stewart and David Perron, Berglund has seen a great chemistry develop and he will look to continue along that path tonight.
Others to watch
Chris Stewart is showing the fans in St. Louis that last season was a fluke. Stewart dropped a ton of weight in the off season and came back in the best shape of his life. Now, Stewart is showing just how dedicated he is to succeeding in the St. Louis Blues organization. Leading the Blues with 21 points, Stewart has netted two goals and five assists in his last five games. It is safe to say that Stewart is on fire and could be a big difference in the game tonight.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
(11-7-6, 3rd in Pacific)
The San Jose Sharks are on a big of a downward spiral after their hot start at the beginning of the season. One of the glaring issues facing the Sharks is their lack of scoring. After blowing a two goal lead against St. Louis on Saturday, the Sharks rallied to come back against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday tying the game at 2-2 in the third period. The scoring problem showed once again though in Colorado as the Sharks were unable to find the overtime goal and lost to the Avalanche.
Antti Niemi has been incredible this season and is one of the reasons that the San Jose Sharks are still where they are in the standings. To date he is second in the NHL in save perentage with a 0.932 and fifth in goals-against-average at 1.96. Niemi could be the difference against the Blues who seem to score in bunches or not at all. If Niemi keeps the Sharks close this one could go in their favor.
Others to watch
Logan Couture seems to always be a threat on the ice and has four points in his last five games including goals in his last two games. Couture was able to crack Jaroslav Halak on Saturday and will look to continue his success against the Blues tonight in St. Louis.
Joe Thornton isn’t performing the way many would like him to be, but he is not a slouch either. With four points in the last five games, Thornton is proving that he is still worth the money they pay him to be on the ice. The Blues and Thornton have an interesting past and it seems like he thrives off of playing in St. Louis. Look for Jumbo Joe to be a threat tonight at Scottrade.
The St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks will both need to play a full 60 minutes to earn a win. These teams are fairly evenly matched and are looking to poise themselves for making a playoff run. Having played one another on Saturday tensions could be high and I expect a physical matchup, but in order for the Blues to win they are going to have to avoid the bad penalties that they seem to have been getting in bunches this season.
The Blues are still without Andy McDonald, and Vladimir Tarasenko as they are nursed back to health. Alex Steen will be a game time decision for the Blues, but could be back tonight as his shoulder is feeling better. Jamie Langenbrunner is out for the season after his hip surgery early this season and will be watching from the sidelines tonight. The San Jose Sharks are without Brent Burns and Martin Havlat as both have been placed on the injured reserve with lower-body injuries. The Sharks are also without Thomas Greiss as he is listed as day-to-day with neck pain.
Let’s hope the St. Louis Blues can bring home a win tonight. LET’S GO BLUES!