The St. Louis Blues can rest easy knowing Brian Elliott is back in the zone. The prospect of benching him for Jake Allen in Game 7 was hotly debated following his below average performance against the Stars. Head coach Ken Hitchcock stuck with his main guy and it paid off, as Elliott put on a show against the Stars in Game 7. The Sharks should have had that one, or at least, tied it up and see which way the puck went in overtime. The puck didn’t go the Sharks way in the waning moments of Game 1. There were chances galore for them to fit one past Elliott, including a shot which hit the post, rolled off Elliott’s back and out of harm’s way.
The Sharks put up 32 shots on Elliott, but the only one to get by him was off a weird bounce from a skate in front of the net. Since that final game against the Stars, he’s looked in the zone. At this juncture in the season it’s usually one goaltender who kicks it up into another gear that leads their team to the Stanley Cup. All four of the teams left are equally matched in a way, so it is the man between the pipes that saves the day, or in this case, the series.
Matt Murray let in a soft goal, Martin Jones did the same, and in Tampa Bay their starter Ben Bishop is injured. Letting in soft goals is part of it, but they are two of the goalies left you might expect it from, two guys with limited experience. And at this point in the season, allowing easy goals in will be the difference. The only netminder I can confidently say could do what I said above is Brian Elliott. I should have known it was a foregone conclusion Elliott was going to rebound after the getting benched talk. Elliott will look for a third shutdown performance in a row.
San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues NHL Playoffs Pick
It is tough to say who the better team was in Game 1. After the Blues went up 2-1 they sat on the lead. The 3rd period was all Sharks, but Elliott and the post bailed them out. Sitting back on a lead usually ends up in a loss. It’s the same with football, you play prevent defense and it never fails that the other team goes down 80-yards and scores a touchdown. The Blues dodged a bullet playing “prevent defense”. They can’t sit back on their heels again or the bounces aren’t going to go their way twice.
While I think we should have at least gotten 5 or 6 goals in Game 1 to cash out OVER bet, I bet an unusual bet for me in the Conference Finals. I said near the end of the regular season and first-round that scoring was going to slow down as we got this far. Sure enough, Game 1 is a 2-1 final, and last night there weren’t any goals after the 1st period other than the overtime winner from Sidney Crosby. Elliott is locked in and I think it’s going to continue here tonight and through this round. If Martin didn’t let in that gimme shot we would have had a 1-1 game and overtime. Things should tighten up even more tonight. Their last four games between the Sharks and Blues have gone: 3-1, 6-3, 1-0, and 2-1. I think the final score will be similar to one of those lower scoring games.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-110)