Pucknology Game Day Report
The San Jose Sharks will look for a Stranglehold 3-1 lead tonight as they face off against a St. Louis Blues team that they have outplayed all series thus far. If the Sharks are successful it will be the first time in franchise history that they will have won three games in the third round of the playoffs. For the second time in as many games, the St. Louis Blues are going to change things up again, after altering the lines in game three Ken Hitchcock will now go with goaltender Jake Allen to start game four. While this move, in my opinion, is a very desperate move by the Blues but it could add a very interesting dynamic to the series.
I don’t think the goaltender shift is as much a verdict on Brian Elliott as it is Hitchcock trying to find something to spark a better performance out of his team. Elliott for the most part done everything you could ask of your goaltender other than score goals. Jake Allen is a guy who will be a starting goaltender in the NHL and many could argue is a starter now so the Sharks should not take him too lightly. The other significant difference between Elliott and Allen is that Allen is a far superior puck handler and has no problem going out to play the puck when needed which should help the Blues be able to exit their zone faster and make it more difficult for the Sharks to get set up.
The Sharks will obviously continue to play Martin Jones who has been good for the Sharks although I don’t think that the Blues have forced him to be great. That’s not to take anything away from the play of Jones after all not allowing a goal in seven playoff periods is a feat. To solely credit Jones would be a massive disservice to the guys playing in front of him that have simply smothered the Blues players and especially Vladamir Tarasenko who has been all but invisible. If The Sharks can continue their strong play and continue their domination on home ice I don’t see how the Blues can recover if the Blues can finally solve the Sharks and more importantly Martin Jones than this may have a chance of turning into the longer series that everyone predicted.
Sharks Keys to Victory
- The Blues know what this game means to their season, they are going to come out hard early as they have in all the games thus far and the Sharks will need to weather the storm. The Sharks will also need to look for opportunities to turn their momentum against them and take advantage of any early mistakes to take them out of the game quickly.
- Jake Allen is a great goalie but this post season he has seen less than 60 minutes of action. The Sharks need to get quality chances early and look to really get into the psyche of the St. Louis Blues. What they don’t want to do with a goalie like Jake Allen is allow him to find a rhythm by peppering him with low-quality shots.
- Most importantly though is the Sharks cannot take anything for granted. They can’t leave Jones out to dry because they assume he’ll stop the puck. They can’t take a period off because they think they can just turn it on later and win the game. This could be a huge turning point in this series for either team because winning two games is only half the battle.
Matchup by the Numbers
|San Jose Sharks||St. Louis Blues||Advantage|
|10-5||Playoff Record||9-8||Sharks lead 2-1|
|(15/52) 28.8%||Power Play||(12/49) 24.5%||Sharks|
|(36/43) 83.7%||Penalty Kill||(39/49) 79.6%||Sharks|
Sharks Projected Lineup
Hertl – Thornton – Pavelski
Donskoi – Couture – Marleau
Karlsson – Tierney – Ward
Zubrus – Spaling- Wingels
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – Polak