The Western Conference Finals between the St Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks returns to St Louis for Game 5 tonight. The series between the teams is tied with 2 wins a piece, and the Blues hope that tonight will be the night they take the lead back from the Sharks. St Louis had a great bounce-back performance in the last game, and they are looking to carry that momentum forward. The Sharks on the other hand, felt that they let their game slip, and they want to get back to the type of play they feel they are capable of. Tonight’s puck is set to drop at Scottrade Center at 8:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM CT and will be on NBCSN.
Game 4 between the St Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks was on the National stage, as NBC televised the game Saturday. The Blues knew that they needed to come with a better game plan if they had any hope of tying the series. Jake Allen replaced Brian Elliott in goal, with the hope that the team would respond with better play in front of him. This game started out great as St Louis went up 4-0 in the first two periods. Troy Brouwer and Jori Lehtera netted goals in the first, and Kyle Brodziak recorded 2 goals in the second period. The third period is where the Sharks really started to push back. In the end it wasn’t enough, as Brouwer scored another and Alex Pietrangelo recorded an empty netter. The final: Blues 6, Sharks 3. It was a good day to be a Blues fan.
Troy Brouwer’s 2 goals for the night now brings his total for this postseason to 7 goals. That equals the number of goals he has combined in all his previous 95 postseason games. And what can you say about Kyle Brodziak? Before Game 4, he had 3 career playoff goals in 44 games. In Game 4 he recorded 2 goals in one night. It was his first multi-goal playoff game, and his first career shorthanded playoff goal. It was a good night for him.
It, however, was not a good night for several Blues’ players. Captain David Backes, as well as Robby Fabbri were injured and did not finish the game. Backes was injured in the first period, but it is not clear how, nor even exactly when, was he injured. Around the time of Lehtera’s goal he went behind the net and ran into Brent Burns. The shoulder of Burns seems to have hit Backes in the head causing him to whip his head back. Backes did return for another shift where he seems to have hit a rut in the ice and gone down. At this point Backes returned to the bench and did not take another shift in the game. Backes only played 5:34 in the game, but remained on the bench for the entire game to cheer on the team. Fabbri took a hit in the first period of the game as well, but from Tommy Wingels. Fabbri returned to play, but only played 9:21 in the game. He played 52 seconds in the third period and ended up sitting on the bench for the remainder of the period. Both Backes and Fabbri will dress for warm-ups before the game and a decision on whether or not they will play tonight will be made at that time.
The St Louis Blues are, of course, used to playing with teammates out due to injuries. They have done it all season. If the team needs to make adjustments to their lineup tonight in order to deal with injured players, it should not cause much of a problem. Troy Brouwer said, “We’ve had injuries, guys come in and out of the lineup throughout the season. It’s shown a lot about a lot of different players in here. To see something extra out of the guys that you thought they might not have had. We’ve had a lot of guys step in to fill key roles at times. If something is out of place tonight, then we have all the confidence in the world in the guys that can step in.” (lkorac10)
One decision has been made by coach Ken Hitchcock for tonight’s lineup, and that is the starting goaltender. Jake Allen will get the start between the pipes once again after the win in Game 4 in San Jose. The Blues played better in front of him on Saturday and so he will get the start again with hopes that his presence can get the team another win tonight. Brian Elliott got the Blues to where they are in the postseason, but the team was taking him for granted. They were expecting Elliott to win the game for them. This attitude was causing the Blues’ defense to get lazy and make mistakes. Elliott cannot do it all. He can make saves, but he can’t score all the goals for the team. St Louis was standing back and waiting, they were not attacking and scoring goals. On Saturday the Blues finally attacked. They defended their net and they finally scored goals. The hope is with Allen in net again tonight, there will be a repeat performance of Game 4 from the club.
It was definitely a drastic move for the St Louis Blues to change goalies for Game 4. “We had a really good goalie (Elliott) playing, but we were relying on the good goalie all the time,” Hitchcock said. “We weren’t playing for Ells. We were relying on him. There’s a big difference. Ells was standing on his head and we were giving up too many quality scoring chances, too many easy chances, too many odd-man rushes. We were getting comfortable thinking the goalie could stop everything. We just needed to compete a lot harder for whoever was in goal. That’s why I made the change.” (blues.nhl)
Blues’ fans should expect the Sharks to come back strong tonight. They have won 2 of the past 3 Game 5s when tied 2-2 in a best-of-7 series. “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you have to be prepared for that next game. You try to learn from that last game and the next game is another opportunity. We got to come out with a little bit more energy and be a little bit better prepared,” captain Joe Pavelski said. (sharks.nhl)
Injury Report: Backes and Fabbri are questionable with undisclosed injuries. Scottie Upshall looks to be out with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Let’s Go Blues!
Feature Image Courtesy Of Dinur / Flickr