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SportNHL playoffs 2019: Predictions, odds for Sharks vs. Blues Western Conference finals

08:40  11 may  2019
08:40  11 may  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

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The Western Conference finals pit two teams hankering for a Stanley Cup championship. The one thing going for the Sharks ' power play in this round is that the Blues ' penalty kill is equally bad — 75 percent effective. The Sharks , on the other hand, have killed off 91.3 percent of penalties against.

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NHL playoffs 2019: Predictions, odds for Sharks vs. Blues Western Conference finals © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

The Western Conference finals pit two teams hankering for a Stanley Cup championship. It has been 27 years since the San Jose Sharks joined the NHL and 51 for the St. Louis Blues, and neither franchise has won one. In fact, only one player in this series has won a Stanley Cup: Sharks netminder Martin Jones, who was a member of the 2014 champion Los Angeles Kings.

It wasn't an easy road for either team to get to this point. San Jose trailed three games to one in its opening series with Vegas, and both teams needed to win a Game 7 in the second round to advance. The Blues defeated the Dallas Stars and the Sharks bested the Colorado Avalanche. Let's not even start with where the Blues were on Jan 1.

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The official 2019 NHL playoff matchup page of the San Jose Sharks vs the Vegas Golden Knights including news NHL , the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup, the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo, the Stanley Cup Final logo, Center Ice name and logo, NHL Conference logos, NHL

SN STAFF PREDICTIONS:

Eastern Conference | Western Conference | Stanley Cup

The last time these teams met in the Western Conference finals was in 2016, with the Sharks advancing in six. San Jose captain Joe Pavelski led all scorers in that series with nine points (four goals, five assists) and scored at least one point in every game. This year, Pavelski returned from a head injury to play in the Sharks' Game 7 victory over the Avalanche. He netted a goal and added an assist.

While St. Louis is the Cinderella team in this year's playoffs, the Sharks are going all in for veteran Joe Thornton, who may or may not hang up his skates after the postseason.

San Jose Sharks (-130) vs. St. Louis Blues (+110): Schedule, breakdown, prediction

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)
May 11 Game 1 at San Jose 8 p.m. ET (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA)
May 13 Game 2 at San Jose 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA)
May 15 Game 3 at St. Louis 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN360, CBC, TVA)
May 17 Game 4 at St. Louis 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA)
*May 19 Game 5 at San Jose 3 p.m. ET (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA)
*May 21 Game 6 at St. Louis 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA)
*May 23 Game 7 at San Jose 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN1, CBC, TVA)

(*if necessary)

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Halfway to the ultimate goal, the Sharks take on the Blues in a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference final . SAN JOSE -- The Sharks ’ Stanley Cup playoff road, up to this point, hasn't been easy. But they staved off elimination yet again Wednesday night with a 3-2 victory over the Colorado

Season series

Three regular-season games, three games in which Blues goalie and Calder Trophy finalist Jordan Binnington did not start — granted, he was in the AHL for the first two meetings. Without Binnington between the pipes for St. Louis and Jones starting only the late-season matchup for San Jose, you can pretty much disregard the regular season.

DATE AWAY HOME RESULT
Nov. 9 Sharks Blues STL, 4-0
Nov. 17 Blues Sharks SJS, 4-0
March 9 Blues Sharks SJS, 3-2 (OT)

Offense

The Sharks' leading scorer in the regular season, defenseman Brent Burns, also led the way during their second-round series. Burns netted four goals and six assists in the seven games. The series, though, belonged to Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl (paired with Gustav Nyquist) and Timo Meier. The three chipped in six points apiece and were critical to the Sharks' offensive zone play. Couture and Hertl are tied for the postseason lead with nine goals each, and tied with Burns for points (14). Coach Pete DeBoer has a deep forward unit that persisted despite losing its leader, Pavelski. His return adds a net presence for San Jose, which should also have a healthier Erik Karlsson on the blue line.

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Make sure you guys let me know your thoughts and who you think is going to advance to the finals ! Thanks for watching and make sure to drop a like on the

The official 2019 NHL playoff matchup page of the Boston Bruins vs the St. Louis Blues including news, stats, and video. NHL , the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup, the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo, the Stanley Cup Final logo, Center Ice name and logo, NHL Conference

Likewise, the Blues have scoring depth. Top-liners Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko combined for nine points in the second round, but Tarasenko only has one goal in his last six games. He will need to turn it up to help St. Louis compete with San Jose's offensive firepower. Schwartz, meanwhile, is just three playoff goals away from tying his regular-season total. The play of St. Louis native Pat Maroon in the second round was a bright spot for the Blues. He scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime of Game 7 to cap an emotional night in his hometown. The Blues' defensive corps can jump into the play as well.

Edge: San Jose, especially with Tarasenko not producing.

NHL playoffs 2019: Predictions, odds for Sharks vs. Blues Western Conference finals © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited brent-burns-joe-pavelski-erik-karlsson-san-jose-sharks-040719-getty-ftr.jpeg

Defense

The Sharks have some of the best defensemen in the game in Burns, Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but the defense lives and dies with Jones. Needless to say, if the Jones of the first round reappears, then everything will fall on the shoulders of the defense — a tall task when you take into consideration a possibly banged-up Karlsson. San Jose allowed 18 goals in the second round — the most of any team left standing — but it is 7-0 in the postseason when allowing two or fewer goals in a game. This series will hinge on which team can produce offense. Luckily for San Jose, its defense does just that. St. Louis has its own set of big-name defensemen in Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko; they and Jay Bouwmeester will need to step up.

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Edge: San Jose, because of the names on the blue line and what they can do when needed.

Goaltending

Jordan Binnington has ice water in his veins. Have you seen his reaction to the Blues winning a series? Exactly. There was none. Just another day in the office for the 25-year-old rookie netminder.​ In 13 games this postseason he is 8-5 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. He posted even better numbers in the second round with a 2.18 GAA and .922 save percentage. Binnington is steady in net and the backbone of this team — and has been since he took over in January.

As for Martin Jones, well, he certainly turned his playoff, and season, around. After posting a 2.94 GAA and .896 save percentage in the regular season, he was pulled twice in the first four games of the first round. He then stepped up and had a 1.83 GAA and .946 save percentage in Games 5-7. Jones played well again in the second round with a 2.29 GAA and .916 save percentage — and was not pulled once. While the Sharks may have said their belief in him never wavered, his play in the second round has solidified his position as the teams No. 1.

Edge: St. Louis. Binnington is wise beyond his rookie year.

Special teams

Both sides have firepower, but their respective power plays have been atrocious in the postseason. San Jose was 10.0 percent effective in the second round and St. Louis was at 9.1 percent. The one thing going for the Sharks' power play in this round is that the Blues' penalty kill is equally bad — 75 percent effective. The Sharks, on the other hand, have killed off 91.3 percent of penalties against.

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Edge: San Jose, slightly.

Key players to watch

Joe Thornton, F, Sharks. He didn't notch a point in the last six games of their series vs. the Avalanche, but Thornton has nonetheless been the driving force behind the Sharks' postseason run. The 21-year veteran is determined to finally have his day with the Stanley Cup and the team is itching to get it for him. He will need to increase his production in this series to make it to the Stanley Cup Final. Regardless, he will provide the intangibles that add to his value.

Vladimir Tarasenko, F, Blues. We know what the Blues winger can do, and St. Louis will need him to do that in this series — one point in his last six games is not going to cut it. His five goals in 13 playoff games this year aren't a great stat, either. St. Louis needs the player who scored 33 goals in the regular season and had seven points in his last four regular-season games.

NHL playoffs 2019: Predictions, odds for Sharks vs. Blues Western Conference finals © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited jordan-binnington-st-louis-blues-042519-getty-ftr.jpeg

Sharks vs. Blues playoff history

YEAR RESULT
2016 SJS def. STL in conference finals in six games
2012 STL def. SJS in conference quarterfinals in five games
2004 SJS def. STL in conference quarterfinals in five games
2001 STL def. SJS in conference quarterfinals in six games
1999 SJS def. STL in conference quarterfinals in seven games

Last five playoff appearances

San Jose Sharks

YEAR FINISH
2018 Lost in second round to Golden Knights in six games
2017 Lost in first round to Oilers in six games
2016 Lost in Stanley Cup Final to Penguins in six games
2014 Lost in first round to Kings in seven games
2013 Lost in conference semifinals to Kings in seven games

St. Louis Blues

YEAR FINISH
2017 Lost in second round to Predators in six games
2016 Lost in conference finals to Sharks in six games
2015 Lost in first round to Wild in six games
2014 Lost in first round to Blackhawks in six games
2013 Lost in conference quarterfinals to Kings in six games

Sharks vs. Avalanche prediction

San Jose in six.

Vince Dunn injury update: Blues defenseman out for Game 5.
Blues' Vince Dunn is considered day to day after being hit in the face with a shot and leaving in the first period of Wednesday's Game 3. According to stltoday.com, the belief is Dunn has concussion symptoms. Injury update: Berube says Dunn is not making the trip to San Jose. Blais is OK and "will be a player tomorrow." #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) May 18, 2019 Dunn was injured when he was hit in the face by a puck off a shot from Brenden Dillon, and he didn't return to the 5-4 Blues loss. He also missed the Blues' 2-1 Game 4 win. Stltoday.

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