Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blues & Sharks Playoff Preview

#2 St Louis Blues vs. #7 San Jose Sharks

Ken Hitchcock has turned the Blues around to the point that they should have won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best regular season team.  Despite the Blues late slip down the stretch, they are an imposing team with balanced scoring, incredible defense and goaltending and some burgeoning young players.

The San Jose Sharks battled for a playoff spot all year and finally clinched when the Dallas Stars fell out of the picture.  San Jose has experienced heartbreak season after season and is a combined 1-8 in the last two conference finals.  This year they took a step back and are the #7 seed. Does this mean they’re saving themselves for the playoffs, or that they aren’t the team they once were?

Enough experts have said ‘this will be the Sharks year’ and been proven wrong.  Their mediocre goaltending and leadership are always called into question and this year will be no different.  It’s tempting to take an angry team of veterans over an upstart young squad like St. Louis, but don’t expect the Sharks to become world beaters, or a Ken Hitchcock led squad to fall off the rails so suddenly.

The Blues will play inspired hockey and should continue to stifle the Sharks offense.

PuckWatch Hat-trick:
·         Sharks experience vs. Blues youth/defense
·         Halak/Elliott vs. Niemi falls well in favour of the Blues
·         Is David Backes the darkhorse breakout player this post-season?

Top Scorers to Draft
STL – David Backes
STL – David Perron
STL – Alex Pietrangelo
SJ – Joe Thornton
SJ – Martin Havlat
SJ – Patrick Marleau

Series Prediction
Do not be sucked in by the Sharks’ potential and experience.  Arnott will keep the Blues calm and will help them overcome a game San Jose squad.  Blues in 7.
Other Playoff Previews
Western Conference

Eastern Conference

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