We head to the Shark Tank tonight for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The series is tied up at 1-1 after an impressive performance from the Sharks in Game 2. The Sharks have been the better team here, with all things considered, between the first two games in St. Louis. The Sharks played well in Game 1 but the bounces weren’t going their way. They rang a few posts in the 3rd period and couldn’t buy a goal. The Sharks came about as close as you can come to scoring. The next game they made no mistake and blanked the Blues by a score of 4-0.
They looked like the hungrier team and this time it showed on the scoreboard. In a lot of ways, both series have been a mere image of one another. Like the Penguins, the Sharks have passed the eye test. Last night the Penguins once again took it to the Lightning in Tampa and came out with a 4-2 victory. I haven’t seen two teams that look so unconfident after taking a split on the road.
The Blues looked frustrated, unable to break through the Sharks’ defense to facilitate offense. The Sharks are a big and physical team, they are no fun to go against in a playoff series. Just like they did in the last two rounds, their physical presence can really wear on a team and impact the opposition. I wouldn’t say Brian Elliott played a bad game, he had a hard time trying to compensate for the lack of support from his defense. Conversely, the offense couldn’t get a goal past Martin Jones, so it was pretty much irrelevant as far as that game is concerned. But it might pose a problem going forward in this series. They didn’t look the best. However, perhaps the Sharks will have problems at home like they had during the regular season. Find my pick for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals below.
St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks NHL Playoffs Pick
The Shark Tank was a house of horrors for the Sharks during the regular season. It was a little difficult to figure out why they played so poorly at home, but whatever it was, they were a much better team on the road. In the playoffs, they’ve seemed to realize that San Jose is their house and have to protect it. It’s been a complete 180 actually, as the only loss the Sharks have had at home is in overtime against the Kings in the first-round, a 5-0-1 record. Perhaps some statistical regression is in play here after the Sharks went a miserable 23-20-4 at home compared to 32-12-5 on the road.
The way the Sharks have been playing it looks like they could win anywhere. At home, on the road, on a backyard rink, or on a frozen creek. Body language is an excellent way to get a feeling for a team at this point in the season. The Blackhawks were cool, calm, and collected last season, as were the Kings when they won. The Sharks would fit into that category immensely. The Blues on the other hand look a little tight and timid. San Jose is treating this just like another game and their loose play on the ice is reflecting that. Even Martin Jones, making his first meaningful impact in the playoffs during his career, is playing like his former teammate, Jonathan Quick in LA. Jones sat behind Quick and actually has a ring already, an experience which has benefited him greatly. My play has to go with the San Jose Sharks in Game 3.
PICK: SHARKS TO WIN -145