We've known since Saturday night that this was the matchup. We've thought back on those four Blues wins over the Sharks. Players have rested and prepared at practice. Blue and yellow bunting has been hung with care around the arena. There's a giant playoffs logo painted on the ice. All the preparations are ready; let's get ready to rumble.
Welcome to Game 1 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. The San Jose Sharks finished the season with four wins which earned them the seventh seed in the Western Conference. One of those was a shootout win. They scored a total of 16 goals in those four games. Two were over the usually stingy L.A. Kings.
Antti Niemi will be the starter for the Sharks in net. The former Cup winner with Chicago saw his save percentage dip to 91.5 percent and his goals-against average rise slightly to 2.42. He is beatable.
Partially because of his playoff resume, partly because of his play in some big games this year and partly because Brian Elliott has some sort of upper body injury, Jaroslav Halak gets the start tonight. He is 4-2-0 in his career against San Jose. At home this season, Halak was 16-3-2 while stopping 93.3 percent of shots he faced. That's fairly good.
The pressure will be on the Blues to put defensive pressure on the Sharks. Keeping the San Jose shots total down will be one barometer of how they're doing. Another will be how many offensive chances the Blues create off turnovers.
It's time. This is your game day thread. Comment like you're going fucking crazy.