The St Louis Blues are trailing the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals by 2 games to one. After taking the first win, the last 2 games have not gone well for the Blues. All the momentum is now on San Jose’s side. St Louis is getting desperate to change the tide of the series, and the decision has been made to switch up the goaltenders. Everyone will want to see if this drastic move will cause the team to sink or swim. Tonight’s game will start at 7:15 PM ET/ 6:15 PM CT and will be on NBC.
Game 3 between the St Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks was supposed to be a bounce-back game for St Louis. Several lineup changes were made with hope that they would spark some energy in the team. Robert Bortuzzo, Dmitrij Jaskin and Magnus Paajarvi were all additions to the game day roster. The game started out on a positive note. The Blues were more aggressive, were forcing turnovers and were spending time in the Sharks’ zone. By all accounts, the game was starting out great. Unfortunately it didn’t stay that way. San Jose caught on to the Blues new moves and countered accordingly. By the end of the first period the Sharks were up by one goal. And by the end of the second period, they were up 2-0. Early in the third period saw yet another San Jose goal to put this one away for the Sharks. The final: Blues 0, Sharks 3.
This is the first time in franchise history that the Blues have been shut out in back-to-back games in the playoffs. Unfortunately, that is not the kind of record that the Blues were hoping to set this year. St Louis has been shut out of the past 150:45 of game time. Yikes. It has been painful to watch.
It should be said that this is not about goaltending. Brian Elliott has been strong in net. Unfortunately the top lines, actually all of the lines, have not been able to create anything offensively. At the same time, the Blues have been struggling defensively. The team has not been there to help out Elliott. He cannot do this alone.
Coach Ken Hitchcock has made the drastic decision to start goalie Jake Allen in Game 4. Both Elliott and Allen are strong goaltenders, they each had streaks of greatness during the regular season. However, the last time Allen started, and played a full game for the Blues, was back on March 26 against the Capitals. This is definitely a desperation move by Hitchcock.
In the post-game interview (Game 3) Hitchcock had this to say when he was asked about scoring more:
I think creating offense is really dangerous right now. That’s the wrong decision. We’d like to score goals. We need to score goals…There are things in our game that need to take place on a more consistent basis if we expect to score. So, these are the things we are going to talk about. If we just talk about the end result, we’re going to end up in the same boat.
San Jose has been absolutely dominate in this series against the St Louis Blues. Oddly enough they only took 16 shots on goal in Game 3. Apparently that was all that was needed. The Sharks out-hit the Blues 41-21 while blocking 26 shots. Ex-Blue Roman Polak blocked 6 shots and delivered 6 hits in his night. Polak seems to be enjoying this payback of the team that traded him away. I can’t say I blame him.
It is not just defense that has the Sharks ruling the ice. Their offense in the postseason has been leading the League. Logan Couture leads the NHL right now in the playoffs with 20 points, and Joe Pavelski is tied for the lead in the NHL with 9 goals. Brent Burns has 18 points which leads the League for points in the postseason for a defenseman. Joe Thornton has 8 points in his last 7 games, and Patrick Marleau is currently sitting with 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists). (nhl.com) These are some huge numbers for the Blues to compete with. The Sharks not only have momentum, but they have more and more confidence as these games go on. This is the first time in their franchise history that they have the lead in a Conference Final. If that doesn’t give the Sharks even more momentum and confidence, I don’t know what will.
Injury Report: None.
Let’s Go Blues!
Feature Image Courtesy Of Dinur / Flickr