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Sharks vs. Blues Preview: San Jose goes for three in a row

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The Sharks look to avoid being swept by the Blues this season.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks and Blue meet in a Western Conference Finals rematch with San Jose looking to avoid a season-series sweep against the St. Louis club. The Sharks have been outscored 7-2 in the previous two meetings despite outshooting the Blues 54-51 in those two contests (I know, score effects).

So San Jose can try to at least end the skid tonight against a St. Louis team playing its second game in as many nights. Don’t count out the fatigue factor for the Sharks, either, as Team Teal is playing its third game in five nights and fourth game in six nights. The schedule makers have put together a brutal week for San Jose.

This is an interesting St. Louis team. Despite sending Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals and seemingly raising the white flag on their season, the Blues are very much in a playoff position. St. Louis had won five in a row before losing to Anaheim last night and sit four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in the wild card race.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking the Blues have been better off — at least, not in terms of their possession play. St. Louis is not the team it was when the Sharks met it in the Conference Finals last season. Check out the team’s 25-game rolling average for possession this season from corsica.hockey.

The Blues corsi-for percentage is down to 48.78 percent over the last 25 games (entering the Anaheim contest). That’s pretty bad! So what has kept the Blues alive? Well, good fortune, mostly. That and the Kings have been both unlucky and, frankly, not all that good themselves. Here’s the same chart with the Blues and Kings’ PDO (a flawed but illustrative metric that adds together teams’ 5v5 save and shooting percentages together) instead:

It might not be the whole story, but you get the idea. So don’t buy into the notion that St. Louis is a team on the rise. The Blues will likely make the playoffs and the Kings won’t. You won’t hear me complaining, but the Sharks should take care of business at home (I assume with Martin Jones in net). Go Sharks.