I'm one of those fans who likes to empathize with fans of other teams. So, just as the third period was starting, I pictured myself on the concourse at the Sharks' rink as the fans talked about what was going on. I thought, "I'm sure a few of those Sharts fans are saying 'Let's just get an early goal and then anything can happen.'"
Well, the early goal happened and it killed the Sharks and their fans. The Alex Steen power play goal that made it 4-1 early in the third effectively ended the game. These are long series, but tonight was one of those games that gave the Blues confidence that they can end this thing, sucked out any thought that San Jose can win the series and killed any discussion that these two teams are evenly matched.
Even my wife, who still isn't 100% on what offsides looks like, said tonight that, "The Sharks just don't look very good."
Excellent analysis there.
That said, it's hard to get to four wins. I don't think this is over by a long shot and Thursday's game has the potential to be the most intense of the whole series. Should be a fun one, but if the teams both play the way they did tonight, the fans will be booing the Sharks again on Thursday.
I believe that if Saint Louis had access to bullets, he would have used at least one on Saint Joseph ('sup, Battle of Cali), so here are some for your consideration and discussion:
- When I was in the military, we always said the most dangerous time of any field exercise was the very end. The guys all start to "smell the barn" and let their guard down. They know when the exercise is over and that it's almost time to go home and they let their guard down. They start to get sloppy. Mistakes happen and people get hurt. The Blues definitely smelled the barn at the end of the third tonight. They let their guard down and let the Sharks score one meaningless goal and then one big one. In the Marines, keeping the boys from smelling the barn is on the officers and NCOs. In hockey, that's on the coach and the veterans.
- Alex Steen's goal was his first career playoff goal. How is that possible? Just crazy.
- Andy McDonald is revved up. That's gonna work out great for us.
- Chris Stewart got 8:46 of ice time tonight. Great googly moogly.
- Carlo Colaiacovo is going to play because he is the best partner for Alex Pietrangelo. And whatever makes Alex Pietrangelo happy is what should happen. Helps that No. 28 had three assists tonight, too.
- Twitter was unhappy with the effort of T.J. Oshie, David Backes and David Perron. Twitter can be stupid sometimes. Those guys are on head-to-head duty with San Jose's top (only) line. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau had zero points yet again. Joe Thornton got three assists, but two of those were the equivalent of your fantasy quarterback piling up yardage in the last 10 minutes of a game his team got creamed in. He hasn't awoken, he got points in garbage time. If the 74-42-57 line keeps those guys off the scoresheet, the Blues should win the game.
- Brian Elliott, I am sorry I ever wanted you to play in Peoria. The Blues play a system that keeps the opponents to the perimeter and that helps the goalies, who see a lot of long shots and poor percentage shots. Several times tonight the Sharks got caught cycling the puck around the boards and weren't able to get to the middle of the ice.
- Remember when Patrik Berglund went crazy last year in that World Whatever It Is tournament that NHLers go to if they aren't in the playoffs? And we all figured he'd make the rest of the NHL go get their shine box this season because of it? Maybe the IceBerg just likes playing in playoff/tournament games. Because he has been great in this series and there's no reason to think he won't get better.
- I can see why Sharks fans like Brent Burns, but he's also the reason they should stop calling the Blues dirty. He's a cheap-shot artist and is definitely trying to hurt someone. He's also kind of good at hockey. But I bet he's dumber than a sack of doorknobs.
Game 4 is going to be crazy intense and physical. I wish it was on Wednesday. The comments await your thoughts, jokes and celebration. Also, drunken shouting.
(AverageJoe edit: I think we were promised some DJ Khaled )