One game is officially in the books and the St Louis Blues have the early lead in the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks. Game one was a feeling out period for both teams as they adjusted to the new series, but now the intensity should crank up as these teams are ready for battle. Fans should expect a fierce one tonight when San Jose brings their “A” game and looks to tie the series. Tonight’s match is set to start at 8:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM CT and will once again be televised on NBCSN.
Game 1 on Sunday started with a goal from Blues’ Patrik Berglund in the first period. Unfortunately, that goal was called back after incidental contact with the goaltender. All was not lost, as David Backes netted a deflected goal a few minutes later. The Sharks quickly followed with one of their own only 34 seconds afterwards to tie the game in the first. The game-winning goal came from Jori Lehtera in the second period. He intercepted a pass from Brent Burns and was off to the races. The goal put the St Louis Blues up 2-1 and that’s where it would remain.
The St Louis Blues did not play their best game in Game 1 against the Sharks. The puck was in the Blues’ zone for most of the game. San Jose was doing an excellent job of clogging up the lanes and just plain getting in the way. These actions led to turnovers. The Blues were having trouble getting the puck deep and were not taking many shots. In the second period alone, St Louis was outshot 16-5. Brian Elliott was once again asked to be the Blues best player on the ice, and he had to bail the team out of a game they were not going to win otherwise. Elliott made some great saves and did an excellent job of covering the puck to prevent second chances on rebounds. The team needed to help him out, but they just were not there. At the end of the game Elliott had made 31 saves, including stopping the last 25 straight shots on goal. Give this guy a medal. The Blues did not deserve this win based on their play in the game, but we will all take it.
St Louis did an excellent job with some of their match-ups in Game 1. Logan Couture leads the Sharks, and the League, with 17 points in the playoffs. He has 3 goals and 4 assists in the past 5 games. The Blues were able to keep him off of the board for only the third time in the playoffs. Joe Pavelski was also kept off of the goal sheet (he did record one assist). Pavelski leads the Sharks, and the League, with 9 goals. The Blues did not play their best game in Game 1, but they did do some things right. St Louis is going to need to find a way to keep these players shut down in this series.
David Backes was a man on a mission in Game 1. He delivered 11 of the Blues’ 28 hits in the game. In comparison the Sharks only had 14 hits. This sets a new high for him, his previous career-high was 9 hits in a single playoff game. Backes is currently on a 4-game point streak where he has 2 goals and 3 assists, he also has 5 goals and 3 assists in the past 7 games. The goal that Backes scored in Game 1 brings his postseason total to 7 playoff goals. Vladimir Tarasenko also has 7 goals for the Blues. This marks the first time since the 1990-91 playoffs that the Blues have had multiple players with 7 goals. It looks as if the Blues’ best players are being their best players in this postseason.
Vladimir Tarasenko was not at practice this morning due to personal reasons. He was in the hospital with his wife, Yana, as they welcomed their first child into the World. Little Aleksandr is the newest Blue, and I’m sure they will have him on the ice as soon as he can walk. Congratulations! Oh, and Tarasenko is expected to play tonight. Little ones seem to be lucky for the St Louis Blues this season. Ryan Reaves scored in the game after his child was born, and Kyle Brodziak scored in the 2 games following the birth of his child. Just in case, Dmitrij Jaskin practiced in Tarasenko’s place in this morning’s practice.
Injury Report: None.
Let’s Go Blues!
Feature Image Courtesy Of Dinur / Flickr