There might be a feel-good story on the finish of the best-of-seven Western Convention Last collection as two franchises with sordid playoff histories go head-to-head when the Sharks and Blues face-off with Recreation 1 on Sunday in St. Louis.
San Jose is trying to advance to the Stanley Cup Last for the primary time in franchise historical past and enters Spherical 3 for the primary time since 2011, when it misplaced to Vancouver in 5 video games. The Sharks have made it to the Western Convention Last for the fourth time ever.
St. Louis is hoping to get to the Stanley Cup Last for the primary time since 1970, when it misplaced to Boston in a four-game sweep. The Blues are within the third spherical for the primary time since 2001, once they misplaced to the Avalanche in 5 video games.
The Sharks exorcised playoff demons in Spherical 1 by ousting their rival Kings in 5 video games and adopted it up by eliminating the pesky Predators in seven video games final spherical to silence their critics.
The Blues have been very resilient and battle-tested all spring, knocking off the defending Cup champion Blackhawks in seven video games within the opening spherical after which overcoming the Stars in a collection that went the space in Spherical 2.
Each of those groups have had tough current playoff histories, so whichever membership emerges from this collection might be a well-deserved convention champion. Listed below are our predictions and a preview for this collection. To view our slideshow, CLICK START on the high proper of this web page. For our Lightning-Penguins predictions, click on right here.
[Pacific Division No. 3] San Jose Sharks (46-30-6, 98 factors) vs. [Central Division No. 2] St. Louis Blues (49-24-9, 107 factors)
Spherical 2 Reflection: Final time round, we picked each golf equipment to win in six, however they did so in seven.
Season Collection: 2-1 Sharks. The Sharks defeated the Blues 3-1 on Feb. 4 and 6-3 on Feb. 22 (each in St. Louis), whereas the Blues defeated their opponent, 1-0, of their most up-to-date assembly on Mar. 22 in San Jose.
Particular Groups (16 playoff groups): Sharks: 30.9 % energy play (2nd), 82.3 % penalty kill (seventh); Blues: 27.5 % energy play (T-Third), 79.5 % penalty kill (eighth)
Projected Goalie Matchup: San Jose: Martin Jones (8-4, 2.16 goals-against common, .918 save share); St. Louis: Brian Elliott (8-6, 2.29 GAA, .959 save share)
Collection Overview: This might be a really aggressive collection with an fascinating dynamic because the Sharks will try to make use of their velocity to keep away from the bodily play of the Blues, whereas St. Louis will attempt to gradual San Jose down by throttling it into the boards.
Each of those groups have an terrible current historical past within the playoffs, so each might be hungry to get to the Stanley Cup Last now that they have been introduced an elusive probability to advance there.
San Jose’s speedy assault has been paced by Logan Couture and Brent Burns. Couture, who had 11 factors final spherical, leads the playoffs with 17 total, whereas Burns, who helps anchor the protection and is rarely shy about taking pictures the puck, is tied for second with 15 and leads the NHL with 11 assists.
Joe Pavelski (13) follows carefully behind and is tied for the playoff lead with 9 targets. The Sharks boast loads of veterans, together with Joe Thornton (3-8–11) and Patrick Marleau (4-5–9), who want to exorcise playoff demons in what could possibly be their ultimate actual shot at hoisting the Stanley Cup.
There isn’t any scarcity of star energy on the Blues. Vladimir Tarasenko is tied for second within the NHL with seven targets and knotted for third with 13 factors. Captain David Backes is tied for third with six tallies, whereas rookie Robby Fabbri’s 13 factors matches him for third within the league.
Backes (12) is certainly one of six St. Louis gamers with double digit factors this spring, an inventory that features Jaden Schwartz (3-8–11), Kevin Shattenkirk (2-8–10) and Troy Brouwer (5-5–10), who has performed a Recreation 7 in his final eight playoff collection’ and is 4-4 in such contests.
Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeister maintain up a strong blue line for the Blues.
One main dynamic of this collection could possibly be particular groups. Although each groups are fairly spectacular in all facets of the sport, the Blues have averaged over 11 minutes in penalties per sport this postseason and with 14 contests already logged, penalties may show to be a deadly blow towards a speedy Sharks energy play.
The Blues have home-ice benefit, however the Sharks had been higher on the street than at residence this season. Nonetheless, San Jose dropped all three street video games to Nashville, together with a possible series-clinching Recreation 6, final spherical.
San Jose was 18-20-3 at residence, however is 5-1 within the playoffs at SAP Middle — a mark that features 4 wins towards the Predators, the largest being Recreation 7.
The goalie matchup might be very fascinating as Jones has confirmed he has what it takes to elevate a workforce in his first postseason as a real No. 1 and Elliott has silenced his many critics by profitable two playoff rounds. Jones and Bishop rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in goals-against common this postseason.
Final Name: This one will come all the way down to the wire. If there are any groups who understand how laborious it’s to get to this stage, it is the Sharks and the Blues. Each groups know how you can rating targets as San Jose has discovered the twine for a blistering and NHL-leading 3.42 targets per sport within the playoffs, whereas St. Louis ranks third (3.14). That is one that may actually go both means, however given the way in which the Sharks had been in a position to reply to the bodily play of the Kings, this one will come all the way down to the wire and the Blues simply will not have sufficient power to win their third consecutive Recreation 7.
The Decide: Sharks in 7.
Which workforce will lastly advance to the Stanley Cup Last?