St. Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks
Game 1: May 11
Series Deep Dive
If you talked to anyone at the end of December, no one would have predicted that the St. Louis Blues would be in the conference finals. But here they are, thanks in part to solid goaltending by rookie standout Jordan Binnington and great coaching by Craig Berube. He has employed a tough, physical system that every player has bought into. The Blues are also not a traditional underdog team, as they were expected to be contenders by early season prognosticators. Expect the Blues to give the Sharks a run for their money.
Now for their opponent, the San Jose Sharks. They are not a surprise, as they were expected to be in this position. This may actually be the year of the Shark, as all their key players, young and old have stepped up in the playoffs. Led by veterans Logan Couture and Brent Burns as well as young guns Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, the Sharks have gotten contributions from everyone. Even Martin Jones has recovered from his lackluster performance in round one and has provided Stanley Cup caliber goaltending. If all this continues, the Sharks will be in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2016.
San Jose Sharks
The Road So Far…
- Defeated Vegas Golden Knights 4 games to 3
- Came back from 3-1 series deficit and 3-0 game 7 deficit
- Leading scorers: Erik Karlsson (9 points), Logan Couture (6 goals), Tomas Hertl (6 goals)
- Defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4 games to 3
- Leading scorers: Brent Burns (10 points), Tomas Hertl (4 goals)
Sharks will win if:
- Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture continue their hot play. Hertl has scored a total of 9 goals in the playoffs so far and has been a force every time he has been on the ice. Same goes for Logan Couture, who has also been on quite a tear lately accumulating 9 goals as well. If they continue to score at the clip they have been, the Sharks will have a good chance of winning this series.
- Brent Burns continues being Brent Burns. He was almost unstoppable against the Avalanche, amassing 10 points in the series. If he continues just being his usual self, the Blues will have a difficult time in this series.
St. Louis Blues
The Road So Far…
- Defeated Winnipeg Jets 4 games to 2
- Leading scorers: Alex Pietrangelo (6 points), Jaden Schwarz (4 goals)
- Defeated Dallas Stars 4 games to 3
- Leading scorer: Jaden Schwarz (4 goals, 6 points)
The Blues will win if:
- Binnington continues to play the way he has played since he joined the team at the end of December.
- Jaden Schwarz stays hot. He already has 8 goals in the playoffs after only scoring 11 in the regular season. If he continues to score at this rate, the Blues will have a good chance of winning the series
- They match the speed of the Sharks. San Jose is a very quick, physical team. If the Blues can match this, they will have a good chance of winning. The depth of both teams are almost the same, so this will probably be the difference.
Matthew Zator is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @SwaggyCanuck on Twitter.