Blackhawks News

Western Conference Playoff Preview-#2 Blues vs #7 Sharks

By Keith Schultz

#2 St. Louis Blues (49-22-11 109 points) vs #7 San Jose Sharks (43-29-10 96 points)

Season Series-

Blues swept the Season series 4-0

Series Schedule

Game 1- 4/12 At Blues

Game 2- 4/14 At Blues

Game 3- 4/16 At Sharks

Game 4-4/19 At Sharks

Game 5- 4/21 At Blues

Game 6 4/23 At Sharks

Game 7 4/25 At Blues

St Louis

The Blues season turned after only 13 games, that is when Ken Hitchcock replaced Dennis Payne as head coach. The Blues were 6-7 at the time and everything changed for them. Hitchcock inserted a system that reaped many benefits including a Central Division banner.  The offense for the Blues is not scary, but it is very balanced. The scary part of the Blues team is the goalie position with both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have very good years. The Blues also have some veteran presence with Stanley Cup Champion resume’s in Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott.  The Blues have only won 4 out of their last 12 entering the playoffs, so did they let up on the gas pedal or did they peak too early?

LEADING SCORER- David Backes 24g 30a 54 points

BACKSTOP(S) – Jaroslav Halak 26-12-7 1.97GAA .926 save% Brian Elliott 23-10-4 1.56 GAA .940save%


DIFFERENCE MAKER- Goaltending will be the only way for the Blues to advance within their system. They only scored 210 goals so they are not spectacular on that end so they must stop the puck every game to win.

San Jose

The Sharks had a very dissappointing regular season after making it to back to back confernce championship series losing to both the Blackhawks in 2010 and Canucks in 2011.  They even for a time late in the season looked like they could be missing the playoffs, but they survivied the regular season.  This could be a team that survived and now is looking for redemption, they have tons of playoff experience and a Stanley Cup winning goaltender.  If they get past St Louis could they make a legit run?  History suggests they would not, but they have the talent to do so.  If the Sharks were able to steal game 1 or 2 away from the Blues they could have a chance in this series, because the Blues were extremely ordinary on the road.

LEADING SCORER- Joe Thorton 18g 59a 77 points

BACKSTOP- Antti Niemi 34-22-9 2.42 GAA .915 save%

EX-BLACKHAWK FACTOR-Stanley Cup Champion Antti Niemi

DIFFERENCE MAKER- Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in Goals scored and +/-.  Thorton may be the leader of the Sharks and has been the scapegoat but they Pavelski can be the difference in an upset or being out of the playoffs quickly.

PREDICTION SURE TO GO WRONG- St. Louis in 5.  The Blues goaltending will be too much for the Sharks.