The St. Louis Blues secured the No. 2 seed in the NHL's Western Conference playoff bracket, but even their first round matchup against the No. 7 San Jose Sharks won't be easy. The Blues hit a snag at the end of the regular season, and now they have to deal with a potent Sharks offense anchored by Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and point man Joe Thornton, who dished up 59 assists and 77 points to lead the team in scoring. Over at SB Nation's Sharks blog, Fear The Fin, they broke down the puck possession numbers and see some trends in the last 15 games that suggest St. Louis might be vulnerable:
San Jose Sharks & St. Louis Blues at Even Strength (Last 15 Games)
|Team||Record||Shots Tied||Fenwick Tied
||CORSI Tied||Shots Close
||Fenwick Close||CORSI Close|
What this is telling us is that the St. Louis Blues struggles in their last 15 games are reflective of a drop in possession. As of late, they haven't controlled the play like they did during the majority of the season.
A lot of times you can point to puck luck or variance or bounces of whatever you want to call it as a reason for a team's struggles, but for the Blues this seems to be an issue that might have deeper roots. I wouldn't call it a glaring weakness (as their possession numbers are still fine in some respects), but I think the notion "the Blues entered the postseason at a less than optimal level" is accurate and relevant.
The series could be tough on Blues fans as well, with the west coast time zone coming into play. In an article titled "How to Watch West Coast Games and Not be a Zombie," the staff at St. Louis Game Time presented a whimsical guide to staying up late and still being able to function the following morning. It's a wonderful read, so be sure to check it out.
To get you in the mood for playoff hockey, here is a complete look at the post-season landscape:
- No. 1 New York Rangers vs. No. 8 Ottawa Senators
- No. 2 Boston Bruins vs. No. 7 Washington Capitals
- No. 3 Florida Panthers vs. No 6 New Jersey Devils
- No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers
- No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Kings
- No. 2 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 7 San Jose Sharks
- No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks
- No. 4 Nashville Predators vs. No. 5 Detroit Red Wings
For full St. Louis Blues coverage, check in with SB Nation St. Louis and St. Louis Game Time. For full San Jose Sharks coverage, check in with SB Nation Bay Area, Fear The Finand Battle of California.