Louis Blues were in trouble after the second game of the Western Conference Final when the San Jose Sharks walked out of the Scottrade Center with a 4 0 victory that evened the series.
After the Sharks pulled off a 3 0 shutout in Game 3 at the SAP Center, the Blues appear to be in desperate shape. Their offense is unable to challenge goalie Martin Jones and the San Jose defense, and the Sharks are coming up with big offensive plays at key moments.
One of the moves Hitchcock is making to breathe new life into his team is to bench goaltender Brian Elliott in favor of Jake Allen. Elliott had been on top of his game through the first two rounds in seven game triumphs over the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars, but he gave up three goals on 14 shots in Game 3. (The Sharks) have been dialed in for seven games now, and if we expect to trot out just a little bit better effort and expect to see a [different result], that would be misleading. We’re going to have to change momentum in a real positive way with probably a little bit more drama to it.
The Blues need their top offensive players to step up and produce.
Everything seems to be going well for the Sharks. After eliminating the Nashville Predators in the seventh game at the SAP Center, San Jose has played three consecutive strong games against St. Louis. While it dropped a 2 1 decision in Game 1, it played at least as well as the Blues but couldn’t slip the tying goal past Elliott.
Since that loss, the Sharks have dominated with their defensive skills, speed and ability to make plays down low. Brent Burns had two goals in the Game 2 victory, while Tomas Hertl had a pair of goals in Game 3.
It’s no surprise to see Burns put the puck in the net because he has been a vital hub of the offense throughout the season and the playoffs, and Hertl has also been opportunistic. The Sharks are also getting a huge lift from Joe Thornton, who has long endured the reputation of a superstar who struggled in the postseason. Cotsonika:
He’s still the same guy. He wants to win just cheap jerseys
as badly as he did six, seven years ago. . I think the biggest thing with him is, he’s having a lot of fun. He loves this team. He loves the guys on the team. He loves coming to the rink and playing. He’s just having a blast.
Thornton no longer has to carry the Sharks on his own. Burns, Couture and Joe Pavelski are powerful offensive forces and are getting the job done for San Jose.
As the two teams prepare for Game 4, the Blues know they are in a desperate position, and the change in goal could provide an emotional lift.
However, the Sharks are firing on all cylinders, and Jones has blanked St. Louis for 147 minutes, 43 seconds. San Jose has also won six straight home games. It may take a monumental effort from the Blues to steal Game 4 and tie the series at 2 2.
San Jose is playing too well right now, and as long as it comes close to its best game, it should win. Look for Couture, Burns and Thornton to play key roles in a 3 2 victory.
The Tampa Bay Lightning rebounded from two straight losses to beat the Penguins 4 3 in Game 4 at the Amalie Arena.
While that was a much needed win for the Lightning, don’t expect the Penguins to back down in Game 5. Mike Sullivan’s team returns to the Consol Energy Center, and look for the Pens to employ their quickness Sunday night.