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Western Conference Final Game 2 Preview: Sharks vs Blues

Series: Sharks lead 1-0

Location: SAP Center

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET; (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)

Overview:

The San Jose Sharks dominated the St. Louis Blues with a 6-3 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This is the third straight series where the Sharks won Game 1.  Tonight the Sharks will host Game 2 at the SAP Center hoping to lead the series 2-0.

Sharks Offense

A lot of the Sharks playoff success comes from a strong first period. After Game 1, they have gone nine straight games without trailing the first period. In those nine games, they outscored opponents 8-3.  In Game 1 against the Blues, they finished the first period leading 2-1. They continued to dominate in the second period scoring three goals; one from Kevin Labanc and two from Meier. The fast pace offense needs to keep attacking and putting shots on rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Sharks Statistics

So far in the playoffs, the Sharks have at least six players with at least 10 points in the playoffs. Forward Logan Couture, leads the playoffs in goals (11) and points (17), and defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the league in assists (13).  Also, let’s not forget about Evander Kane leading the playoffs with the most penalty minutes. Although they played the most games out of the remaining playoff teams, it is still impressive to have league leaders in every category.

Fact: Sharks Struggle in Game 2

The Sharks won all of their Game 1’s in this year Stanley Cup Playoffs. So far in the playoffs, they did not win Game 2 in the previous rounds against the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche. This is their opportunity to sit comfortably in the series with a 2-0 lead. The Blues are the best road team in the playoffs with a 5-2 record. The pressure is on the Sharks tonight to win their first Game 2 in their playoff run.

Blues Notes

Can Binnington Bounce Back?

Binnington had one of his worst games of the season by allowing five goals in 24 shots. Sharks forwards Logan Couture and Timo Meier scored four of the six goals. It was the Blues first time to allow over four goals in a game since Game 3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in the first round. Despite the Sharks dominance in the offense, the Blues shouldn’t be too worried for Binnington. In the playoffs, the goaltender is 3-2 with a.934 save percentage following a loss. What’s even more impressive is that he went 6-0-0 following a loss in the regular season. This was the first time in his career he faced the Sharks. Expect him to be more focused and ready for Game 2.

Can the Blues Start Strong in Game 2

I stated earlier in the article how the Sharks dominated in the first period in the playoffs. In Game 1, the Blues made a strong push in the third period and figured out the Sharks offense. It was too late to make a comeback as they were down 5-2 at the beginning of the third period. Head coach Craig Berube has to get his players to play at the top of their game for a full 60 minutes.

One thing positive about Game 1 was that they outhit the Sharks 41 to 35. They need to continue to outhit and put the pressure on the Sharks. Having a strong forecheck on the Sharks defense and turning the puck over to generate more offense will help. Brent Burns is the main player to shut down. 

Bortuzzo Expected To Be In the Lineup

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is expected to replace Carl Gunnarsson in the third defensive pair. Bortuzzo is known to be a physical defender that can also fight. He will be paired up with Vince Dunn. They will depend him on shutting down the Sharks top six forwards. 

Sharks projected lineup

Forwards

Timo MeierLogan CoutureGustav Nyquist

Evander Kane — Tomas Hertl — Joe Pavelski

Marcus Sorensen — Joe Thornton — Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi — Barclay Goodrow — Melker Karlsson

Defense

Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon — Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan — Justin Braun

Starting Goalie

Martin Jones

Blues projected lineup

Forwards

Jaden Schwartz — Brayden Schenn — Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron

Pat Maroon — Tyler Bozak — Robert Thomas

Ivan Barbashev — Oskar Sundqvist — Alexander Steen

Defense

Joel Edmundson — Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester — Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn — Robert Bortuzzo

Starting Goalie

Jordan Binnington

 

 

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