The San Jose Sharks seem to be taking turns putting the team on their backs this round and, while Martin Jones’ night didn’t return the results he and we were hoping for, Tomas Hertl’s two goals helped push the Colorado Avalanche to the proverbial brink in Game 5 yesterday. Now that the New York Islanders have turned back into a pumpkin, it’s up to the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets to do us all a favor and drag their series out for as long as possible to improve our odds of seeing Joe Pavelski show up at SAP Center wearing more teal than he was last night.
Every season, narratives seem to coalesce around the team that goes all the way. Last year, it was Alex Ovechkin’s turn to best the Pittsburgh Penguins and throw off his demons. The year before, those very same Penguins proved that repeat champions could still exist and that a number one puck mover on the blue line was no longer a prerequisite. The list goes on and, with that criterion, it’s hard not to start getting excited about this year’s Sharks. The narratives around Jones’ resurgence, Pavelski’s outsized impact and leadership, and players taking turns with his metaphorical cape are hard to ignore, and harder not to love.
If the team with the best story wins, we’re hurtling toward a Sharks-Carolina Hurricanes final and, frankly, sign me up.
What’s on tap
St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars Game 6 (DAL leads 3-2)
12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET on NBC, SN, TVAS
If St. Louis wants to survive to play another day, they’ll have to do something about that power play. After scoring a grand total of zero times on four opportunities in Game 5 on Friday, the Blues have recorded just two goals in 16 tries in round two, a 12.5 percent conversion rate. After the man advantage unit’s explosion against the Winnipeg Jets in round one, scoring five times on 19 opportunities for a 26.3 percent rate, the Blues have regressed to mediocrity, sitting on a 20 percent rate for the postseason as a whole. Their round two power play would be last in the league in the regular season, and given a larger sample, would likely regress, but large samples are hard to come by today, and they may have to get a little more creative.
Dallas’ top six, after head coach Jim Montogomery’s many machinations, is contributing in spades. Tyler Seguin on the top line and Alexander Radulov on the second both have four points in the last three games, and ten points in their last 11. They’ll need to keep contributing up front if the Stars want to record the hardest of the four wins this round tonight, and avoid a Game 7 in St. Louis on Tuesday.
Benjamin “been jammin’” Bishop: Bishop made 38 saves on 39 shots on Friday and has a .936 save percentage in the postseason so far, but it isn’t just him. The Stars are doing excellent defensive work, keeping the Blues outside the more dangerous areas of the ice and limiting their looks at Big Ben’s net, as evidenced by his goals saved above average at five-on-five figure of -.59. That same number on the penalty kill, though, is a league leading 3.88, which may go a long way in explaining St. Louis’ power play woes.
Alex Pietrangelo: The Blues number one stud defenseman, all situations ice-time leader, points leader, and captain will be called upon to lead his team today with their backs against the wall. With nine points through 11 games, Pietrangelo is tied with Jaden Schwartz for postseason production on the squad, and his 24:52 average time on ice is 16th among all skaters in the league. The Blues are facing elimination for the first time this season, and great captains lead their teams through adversity in exactly these times (see Pavelski, J.).
Dialing into the Blues-Stars game today will be emotional for all of us. As Sharks fans, putting on a Blues hat for a day shouldn’t be too painful, as if this series goes to Game 7, our boys will get an extra few days of much needed R&R. Additionally, the entertainment value of the Central division final has been through the roof, and two more games is definitively better than one.
Chime in below at game time with thoughts, jabs, and chirps!