St. Louis Blues Seek Revenge Vs. San Jose Sharks In Conference Finals

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Joonas Donskoi #27 of the San Jose Sharks fights for the puck with Sammy Blais #9 against the St Louis Blues at SAP Center on November 17, 2018 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Joonas Donskoi #27 of the San Jose Sharks fights for the puck with Sammy Blais #9 against the St Louis Blues at SAP Center on November 17, 2018 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues road to a championship was never going to be easy. Now, they have a familiar road block in their path as they are on the edge of something great.

The St. Louis Blues and their fans were still reveling in their conference semifinal win over the Dallas Stars when the nail-bitter finish to the other series ended. The San Jose Sharks ran out to a large lead only to have to hold on for life at the end. Nevertheless, the Sharks were victorious and it will be the beards against the Blues.

The Blues, as a franchise will be looking for revenge against the team that knocked them out of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. How fitting that St. Louis has that opportunity in the conference finals again.

Of course, there are massive differences. Close to half the on-ice roster is no longer on the team from that year for St. Louis. 12 key players and several guys that only played a handful of games, are on other teams or at the end of their road.

So, saying it is revenge is more for the fans who have all been around. If anything, this current Blues team would be the Avengers, avenging a wrong on the people of St. Louis as opposed to taking revenge.

Regardless of what phrase we put on it, this series is going to be tough. Fans have entered that danger zone of feeling this is a team of destiny, but every fan base thinks that. You start the playoffs with 16 teams and all 16 fan bases think their team is the one that has the touch of the divine on them. The thing about that is only one can actually do it.

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Again, this is a different team for St. Louis right now, but the franchise has been quite iffy against the Sharks over the past nine years. The Blues come in with a .500 record of 22-22 in the 2010’s and are actually a game under .500 at home against San Jose. Perhaps it is for the best to be starting on the road.

The Blues have gone 1-2 in the regular season the last two years against the Sharks. As good a road team as the Blues have been, they have not won in San Jose since March 16, 2017.

On the positive side, the players that were there in 2016 know the Sharks can be beaten in San Jose. That Blues team won an impressive 6-3 decision in Game 4 on the Sharks ice. The main problem there was the Sharks returned the favor with a 6-3 win in St. Louis the next game.

The truth is that all the looks at the stats don’t tell you much. The Blues won and lost by scores of 4-0, but those two games were in November, when the Blues disarray was just beginning. The second loss this regular season was a 3-2 score in overtime. That one was in March of 2019, so might be a better barometer of how close this will be.

Neither team comes in with any more rest than the other. Both of them had to go the full seven in the conference semifinals. St. Louis has the extra day off, but they went to double-overtime, so that might wash out.

One of the main differences is going to be goaltending. Jordan Binnington had to steal far fewer games against Dallas than Winnipeg, but he still needed to be sharp. As long as he continues that against San Jose, the Blues will be fine.

Conversely, Martin Jones has been somewhat of a bystander in some of his games. He has not been nearly as good as he was in 2015-16 when he took down the Blues.

He let in some soft goals against Vegas and, if not for that BS five minute major, those might have cost San Jose. The Sharks have made it this far based on guile and tenacity more than anything.

One little twist to the goaltending tale is the Sharks have not played Binnington at all this year. Jake Allen played in two of the games, including the most recent overtime loss and Chad Johnson was in net for the other.

That does not mean they can be overlooked. Their talents match up well against St. Louis and the Blues simply cannot seem to avoid ugly looking agitators that will fray the nerves of fans, such as Joe Thornton. Jones has the skills to put the clamps down too.

The Blues need some of their stars to actually shine instead of just their secondary players.  The Sharks had their big guns firing back in 2016 and that was the main difference.

David Perron has 21 points and 10 goals in 39 games against San Jose.  Vladimir Tarasenko has seven goals and 14 points in 18 career games.  Those two need to find ways to put the puck in the net.

This will be a hard series to predict. San Jose is open enough that we could see four goals go in for either team. They have enough goaltending and defense to think scores could be 2-1 each game as well.

The positive for the Blues is that emotional lift from Game 7 of the Stars. I am sure there are some beat up, tired bodies in that locker room for St. Louis. I do not feel as though they emptied their tank the way they did in 2016 though.

Both series prior to the conference finals in 2016 went seven games and the Blues wasted opportunities to end them early, causing more grief than relief when they won. You don’t get that feel this time.

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St. Louis had chances to finish off Dallas, but overall, this year’s series went about what the flow of the games dictated. I just do not get the sense that this squad is gassed with little left to give the Sharks.

It is going to be another close one that will likely go six or seven. How sweet would it be to flip the script and beat the Sharks this time around to reach that next step?