2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Western Conference Finals – Game #4
#2 St. Louis Blues at #3 San Jose Sharks
Sharks Lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Saturday, May 21, 2016, 7:15 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
SAP Center – San Jose, California
Opening Line: San Jose -155 / St. Louis +135
Current Line: San Jose -150 / St. Louis +130
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: under 5 -130 / over 5 +110
The San Jose Sharks lost game one of the Western Conference Finals to the St. Louis Blues. However, the Sharks have won 2 straight games by a combined 7-0 score. San Jose looks to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in game four Saturday night in the Shark Tank. The Blues look to even the series before returning home for game five. St. Louis won game one 2-1. The Sharks stole home ice advantage with a 4-0 victory in game two and won game three 3-0 Thursday night in San Jose.
In game three, Tomas Hertl scored goals in the first and third periods. Joonas Doonskoi added a goal in the second for the Sharks. San Jose goalie Martin Jones recorded his second straight shutout but faced only 22 shots. St Louis benched goalie Brian Elliot after he gave up 3 goals on 14 shots faced. Jake Allen came in in relief and made both saves on the two shots he faced. Allen will start in game four. St. Louis won 32 faceoffs to 22 for San Jose. Both teams were a combined 0/3 on the power play.
St. Louis is coached by Ken Hitchcock. The Blues finished second in the Central Division with 107 points, two points behind the Dallas Stars. St. Louis beat the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games in the first round, with six of the seven games decided by one goal. In the second round, St. Louis beat Dallas in seven games. In the last three St. Louis wins in that series, the Blues outscored the Stars 16-3. St. Louis is 58-32-5-4 this season and the total is 38-45-16.
San Jose is coached by Peter DeBoer. The Sharks finished third in the Pacific Division with 98 points. San Jose beat the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the first round, but the first four games were decided by one goal. The Sharks then beat the Nashville Predators in seven games in the second round. San Jose is 56-35-3-3 this season and the total is 48-38-12.
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St. Louis is outscoring teams 2.71-2.47 in the playoffs. The Blues average 28 shots per game and opponents average 31.3. The Blues are 12/49 (24.5%) on the power play and 39/49 (79.6%) on the penalty kill. St. Louis has allowed one shorthanded goal.
Goalie Brian Elliot is 9-8 in the playoffs. He has a 2.34 GAA and has made 481/520 saves (.929). He has one shutout. Back-up Jake Allen has played for 49 minutes in the playoffs. He hasn’t allowed a goal in nine shots faced.
Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko has 13 points with 7 goals. Center Robby Fabbri has 13 points with 10 assists. Center David Backes has 13 points with seven goals. Jaden Schwartz has 12 points with 9 assists. Kevin Shattenkirk has 11 points with 9 assists. Troy Brouwer has 10 points with 5 goals. Five other players have at least seven points. Scottie Upshall is questionable with an upper body injury.
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San Jose is outscoring teams 3.27-2.00 in the playoffs. The Sharks lead the league in playoff scoring. San Jose averages 27.7 shots per game and opponents average 27.5 per game. The Sharks are 15/52 (28.8%) on the power play and 35/43 (83.7%) on the penalty kill. The Sharks have allowed one shorthanded goal in the playoffs.
Goalie Martin Jones is 10-5 in the playoffs for the Sharks. He has a GAA of 1.89 and a save percentage of .927 (383/413). He has three shutouts in the post-season. James Reimer is the back-up but hasn’t seen any action in the postseason.
Center Logan Couture leads all playoff scorers with 20 points including 13 assists. Defenseman Brent Burns has 18 points with 12 assists. Joe Pavelski has 17 points with 9 goals. Joe Thornton has 13 points with 10 assists. Patrick Marleau has ten points with six assists. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joel Ward, Tomas Hertl, and Joonas Donskoi all have at least 7 points in the playoffs. Left wing Matt Nieto is questionable with an upper body injury.
St. Louis is 13-5 after scoring 2 goals or less, 20-8 in road games, 5-2 against Pacific teams, 65-27 in Saturday games, and 1-4 in Conference Final games. The Blues are 7-3 in San Jose recently.
San Jose is 6-0 at home, 4-0 in Saturday games, 20-6 against teams with winning records, 11-5 overall and against Western Conference Teams, and 3-11 in conference final games. The last four games in this series have gone under the total.
You don’t have to be a math major to figure out if you don’t score in two straight games that you won’t win. Yes, Elliot gave up a lot of goals on very few shots, but the St. Louis offense has to get back on track. I just don’t see it happening and I like the Sharks to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
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