Series tied 0-0
The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues regularly have waltzed their way through many a successful regular season only to come up short in the playoffs. With a combined three Game 7 victories in the 2016 postseason under their belts, the star-crossed clubs look to keep on dancing on Sunday when they open their Western Conference final at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
“I don’t try and live in the past for this franchise or for the San Jose franchise,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told reporters. With good reason, as the Blues have bowed out in the first round in each of the previous three years before outlasting reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago and fellow Central Division rival Dallas to earn their first conference final appearance since 2001. San Jose is playing in the West final for the fourth time in franchise history – and first since 2011. The Sharks avenged squandering a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in 2014 by besting the Kings in five games in the first round before navigating past Nashville in the conference semifinals.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS
Sharks – Martin Jones (W/L: 8-4, GAA: 2.16, SAVE %: .918)
Blues – Brian Elliott (W/L: 8-6, GAA: 2.29, SAVE %: .930)
ABOUT THE SHARKS (54-31-9, 48-35 O/U): Logan Couture (seven goals, 10 assists) leads the NHL with 17 points while captain Joe Pavelski (franchise record-tying nine goals) and defenseman Brent Burns (club-best 11 assists) have powered San Jose to the brink of the Promised Land. The trio, in fact, has ignited the Sharks’ potent power play as Couture and Pavelski each have four tallies and eight points with the man advantage while shot-happy Burns has seven. San Jose has gone 13-for-42 on the power play for a playoff-best 30.9 percent efficiency rate.
ABOUT THE BLUES (57-28-11, 38-42 O/U): Rookie Robby Fabbri (three goals, 10 assists) and Vladimir Tarasenko (team-leading seven goals, six assists) each have recorded 13 points while captain David Backes (six goals, six assists) has 12, albeit with an NHL-best three game-winning goals. The 20-year-old Fabbri has worked well with linemates Troy Brouwer and Paul Stastny, as the trio accounted for 23 points against the Stars – with each player recording a goal and two assists in the Game 7 rout. “They’re committed to create scoring chances from work, not just from skill,” coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters of the line. “When you’ve got it, it’s like gold.”
* Sharks are 1-10 in their last 11 Conference Finals games.
* Blues are 0-4 in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
* Over is 5-0-4 in Sharks last 9 overall.
* Over is 6-1-6 in Blues last 13 overall.
* Over is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in St. Louis.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The home favorite Blues are picking up most of the action with 68 percent of the Consensus picks. No real surprise, based on the trends above, but the Over 5 is also in the majority at 66 percent. View full consensus data here.