2012 NHL Playoffs, Blues Vs. Sharks Game 2 Preview

Game one didn't go the way that the Blues wanted it to, but it wasn't a total failure, either. In fact, it could be basically what a Blues fan would expect: good effort, though not consistent and solid defense for the most part.

It's the "not consistent effort" and "solid defense for the most part" that coach Ken Hitchcock needs to tweak for tonight, and he's doing so through line-up changes. Chris Stewart, who didn't play well in his traditional power forward role and who probably played even worse on the third and fourth lines, will be making a different play tonight - a play for some mustard for the press-box pretzels. Recent line-up returnee Matt D'Agostini will be back in tonight. While noticeably still not in prime form since returning from a concussion, D'Agostini still affords the team a chance that Stewart hasn't been providing: offense. Two goals, both by Patrik Berglund, is not enough to defeat a San Jose Sharks team that has three regular-season 30 goal scorers.

The Sharks didn't necessarily look like a team that has three 30 goals corers, with Martin Havlat being responsible for two of their goals including the game winner. But that's no reason to underestimate them. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who had a very solid game one, will be back between the pipes tonight, as well Antti Niemi, who you could argue stole game one for the Sharks.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who played 33 minutes Thursday night and who had 11 shots on goal, will be looking for redemption for a non-clear that contributed to the game winning Havlat goal:

"I have my stick on it and it's a play that's got to be made," Shattenkirk said. "That's what these games boil down to, plays like this. It's kind of my first reality check, I guess, and first real taste of playoffs and how one mistake can really come back and bite you."

That shouldn't be what Shattenkirk and the team should be dwelling on, however. They just need to keep up the hits, keep creating the chances, and keep dominating in the faceoff circle and in puck possession. They played an excellent game on Thursday, but let the stress of a double overtime wear them out. The Sharks have been playing great hockey as of late, and the Blues need to reclaim their form. It's do-able, and it has to happen tonight.

For all news and information regarding the St. Louis Blues, please visit St. Louis Game Time. For updates and perspective on the San Jose Sharks, head on over to Fear the Fin. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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