After a momentum-building win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues host the San Jose Sharks for a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference Finals on Thursday.
The St. Louis Blues engage in the second game of a three-game homestand on Thursday night, facing off with the San Jose Sharks for the first time since the Sharks beat them in last season’s Western Conference Finals.
While the makeup of the Blues’ roster–which often got outskilled during last May’s playoff series–is very different this season, the Sharks’ roster is largely the same, with the addition of forward Mikkel Boedker and a few changes among the role players at the bottom of the lineup being the only alterations.
Defenseman Brent Burns and forwards Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton are thriving again, but like the Blues, the Sharks have dealt with some inconsistency during the early going as the bottom half of their lineup has struggled to produce. While the Sharks have been one of the most disciplined defensive teams in the Western Conference, giving up just 36 goals through 16 games, they’ve also been extremely unreliable in terms of offense.
They’ve scored just 37 goals through 16 games, and they’ve been shut out three times, most recently in their loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday. For reference, consider that the Blues’ offense is considered a total crisis among the fan base, yet their 2.41 goals per game are superior to the Sharks’ 2.31.
Still, the Blues are going to have to play with enough speed and tenacity to overcome the Sharks’ ferocious attack. We’ve seen more of that in recent games, with the Blues’ fourth line becoming a legitimate threat at both ends of the ice, Robby Fabbri emerging from a slump in a major way, and guys like Dmitrij Jaskin and David Perron beginning to make more meaningful contributions. That’ll need to continue on Thursday if the Blues are to have a chance against the Sharks.
Let’s take a look at the group that the Blues are expected to go to battle with against San Jose: