SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 15: David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues fights for control of the puck with Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks in the third period of an NHL hockey game at HP Pavilion at San Jose on October 15, 2011 in San Jose, California. The Blues won the game 4-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Blues are back in the playoffs, where they will face Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks.
When the second seeded St. Louis Blues and seventh seeded San Jose Sharks take the ice in St. Louis on Thursday night, most of the pressure will be on Ken Hitchcock's higher seeded squad. The good news for the Blues is that they went 4-0 vs. the Sharks this season, with the last victory coming in San Jose on March 3 by the score of 3-1.
The Blues come into the playoffs, of course, coming off of a shaky finish to the season, where they lost four of their last five, relinquishing the West's top seed in the process. The Sharks meanwhile are streaking into the postseason, having finished the season winning four in a row and seven of their last ten. But, the playoffs are certainly a different beast, and regular season winning streaks get thrown out of the window in favor of individual match ups.
Despite the Blues' regular season sweep, the playoff series between the two may end up being tight. Both teams are rather similar— neither scores many goals, and both prevent goals at an elite rate— though the Blues are slightly better in most categories. The series may swing when one team has the man advantage. The Blues have the second best power play percentage in the NHL, but the Blues have a top ten penalty killing unit. Flip the roles, though, and you see a middling Blues power play attack that may be able to play over its head vs. the league's second worst penalty kill.
Game date/time: Thursday, April 12, 6:30 p.m. CT
Location: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Mo.
TV: CNBC, TSN
For more on this series, stick with SB Nation St. Louis. For more on the Blues visit St. Louis Game Time and for more on the Sharks visit Fear the Fin. For more news, notes and analysis from around the league, head over to SB Nation's NHL news hub.