The Blues continue to prove that winning on the road is remarkably tough to do, and especially so in California. They have another chance tonight, in San Jose. Tonight is a ripe opportunity, but they need to fix some holes in their game to take advantage of it. San Jose is 20-13-5 on the year, and 10-5-2 at home.
The last time we played the Sharks, the Blues held them to just 2 shots on goal in the first period. They came out firing in the second, though, and managed 17 shots on Jake Allen . He only surrendered one goal, and fortunately the Blues scored twice in that same period. Working class hero Steve Ott scored his first goal as a Blues player for one of those. The Blues seemed to sit on that lead in the third, only getting 3 shots on the Sharks net, while Allen faced 9 from San Jose. He stopped all but the last one, as the Sharks scored with the extra attacker at the 19:39 mark. The Blues would then give up a power play goal in OT, and walk out with only 1 point for their effort. That kind of emotional roller-coaster could turn you into a basket case.
The second game of the season series is tonight, with the final match coming in St Louis in less than a week. Much like the LA home-and-home, this is almost like a mini playoff series.
In Anaheim, the Blues gave the Ducks 5 power play opportunities; although they only scored on 1 of them, that is still living dangerously. Not only does that allow too many shots against your own net, those penalty minutes also hamper your own offensive endeavors. The Blues cannot mount an offensive while handling shorthanded duty. This is even more important tonight, as the Sharks are the second-best power play team in the West at 22.9 % (behind the Blues at 23.7 %, which seems dubious to me). Sometimes penalties are necessary, but our boys need to be smarter about those.
There's one ray of hope for tonight. Sharks leader (with or without the C) Joe Thornton is a gametime decision for tonight. He collided with a Ducks player on Wednesday and has been dealing with a sore shoulder ever since. He skated in a regular practice, but it wasn't known yet whether he'd be ready to go tonight. If he's not there, it'll be the first game he's missed since serving a suspension a few years back on a hit that you might remember. They will also be missing the nimrod known as John Scott, who is serving the last game of his suspension tonight. Good riddance to him, but it does cost us, as well. They'll have to fill that roster spot with an actual hockey player instead, which is a shame.
The Blues can beat these guys, with or without Jumbo Joe. But I wouldn't turn down an edge if we can get one.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Thornton out; Niemi in goal for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SJSharks?src=hash">#SJSharks</a> vs. Blues.</p>— David Pollak (@PollakOnSharks) <a href="https://twitter.com/PollakOnSharks/status/551451848771502080">January 3, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Brian Elliott is in goal tonight, and
presumably Antti Niemi will be in net for San Jose. Niemi has a 2.38 GAA and .919 Sv% for the year. Best news yet, Jaden Schwartz is likely to play tonight. The Blues can sure use him tonight.
Blues vs Sharks coverage
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Final Verse: Another late one, of course. Not a problem if you're an insomniac. The puck drops at 9:30 St Louis time, and the GDT should drop shortly before that. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW (and on Rogers SportsNet up in Canada), and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. Come join us, won't you? We have puppy gifs!
Here's a video that I knew I had to use, once I found it. Warning: it gets a little shaky and strobe-y, if you have problems with that. It's an audience shot of Green Day performing at Warsteiner Hockey Park in Germany. Tonight's musical theme, playing at a hockey park, and I have a bottle of Warsteiner in my fridge that I'll be drinking tonight. With that confluence of circumstances, it was meant to be: