The St. Louis Blues will see some familiar faces with some unpopular facial hair tonight. It’s the first time they’ve faced the San Jose Sharks.
The St. Louis Blues built up a pretty solid rivalry with the San Jose Shakrs over the past couple seasons. Playing in the Western Conference Finals will do that to teams.
However, it’s been almost a year since these two have played each other now. The Blues and Sharks last played in March of 2017.
Now, they get ready to drop the puck on a new chapter. Each team is still definitely in the playoff picture, but the Sharks are holding a much safer seat.
St. Louis is hoping they can find some of the magic they had against San Jose last season. The Blues won all three meetings against their fishy foes.
The Blues have to find a way to get themselves on track. We are getting to the point in the season that points matter more than style, though a good performance would still go a long way.
Know Thy Foe
The Sharks struggled for much of the season, somewhat due to injury and somewhat due to simply getting older. They have found a good rhythm of late, however.
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San Jose is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, but they have won their last two. Their last win was an impressive 5-2 thumping of the Dallas Stars, which helped the Blues out in the standings a little.
It’s been some time since San Jose tasted victory in St. Louis. May of 2016 was the last time the Sharks won in St. Louis. It should be noted that only one of the three games was on the Blues home ice last season though. San Jose is 15-10-5 away from the Shark Tank this year.
San Jose knows the Blues pain, both literally and figuratively. They are quite banged up.
Joe Thornton may miss the rest of the regular season and potentially the year with an MCL problem. Brent Burns, Tomas Hertl and Dylan DeMelo are all dinged up too. If this was the NFL, they would be listed as questionable since they are likely to play but somewhat of a gametime decision.
The Blues have stumbled off the rails recently. They are now 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.
Goals have become an issue for St. Louis again. They have five goals in their last three games, but three goals came in the Nashville contest alone.
St. Louis still seeks that right chemistry. They recalled Sammy Blais, but seem to be determined to use Oskar Sundqvist again as well.
The Blues were fairly impressive in their wins over San Jose last season, so they’ll attempt to regain some of that confidence. The Blues outscored the Sharks by an 11-3 margin in those three wins.
St. Louis will be looking to their top guys tonight. Jaden Schwartz has 13 points in his last nine games against the Sharks and Vladimir Tarasenko has nine points in his last eight.
The rest of the Central STILL has games in hand. However, if the Blues win tonight, they will temporarily jump back over Dallas into that third guaranteed divisional playoff spot.
An illness is making me look quite the fool in today’s lineup. I wrote, just yesterday, that the Blues had recalled Blais but were going to put him in the pressbox. Now, he’s in the lineup due to Vladimir Sobotka being ill.
No surprise with Carter Hutton in goal. Despite what so many thin, Jake Allen has played well two of the last three times out. Sadly, he was only afforded goal support in the game he wasn’t that great and thus only one win came his way.
The Blues are to the point where if they are all head cases and feel more comfortable with Hutton, then so be it. It is not as though Hutts has not earned time anyway.
Where To Watch
Fox Sports Midwest, NBCSports California
Fox Sports Go, NHL.tv (subscriber fee)
KMOX, KMOX.com, Blues app
I might be fooling myself here, but I expect a good game from this team. They have some players banged up and their doubts are creeping in.
Despite all that, I am not all gloom and doom for today, in spite of the weather. It will likely be a tightly contested game and it might not be decided until the third period.
However, the Blues do most of their scoring – despite what perception tells us – in the third. So, I’ll say the Blues squeak by in this one with a 2-1 win.