Hey! Newsflash: the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs by the San Jose Sharks last season. I’m not sure if you heard that, but I swear, that’s what happened.
I bet you Brian Elliott, David Backes, and Troy Brouwer can’t wait to play - oh. Ok.
Listen, I’m all for rivalries and emotional investment and so on and so forth. I honest to goodness am. But I really prefer for those to come about organically, through years of hatred, not because one team got eliminated by another one one year in the post-season. I get why the Blues want to come out strong tonight, and I get why they need some extra motivation to do so, but there’s more at stake tonight than revenge for something that happened to a team with a different make-up. The Blues need to show that Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres wasn’t a case of getting a hold of a struggling team and putting their skate on their neck.
The San Jose Sharks are a tough, big team. They’ve been having some struggles this year - they’re just 9-7-0 and looking up at the Ducks and Oilers (!) in the Pacific Division. They’re 6-4-0 in their last ten and lost 1-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Still, they’re not pushovers, and the Blues don’t need to approach this game as a chance for revenge or an easy win.
The Blues may have issues tonight. Both Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko were injured in Tuesday’s win and are both game time decisions. For a team with a goal differential of -7 and who are trying to get back on track, missing two traditional scorers will be tough. Tarasenko especially is a tough loss - he’s on a seven game point streak, in which he’s scored two goals and added seven assists.
According to Jeremy Rutherford, If Steen is out, Dmitrij Jaskin will start where he ended the last game: on a line with Paul Stastny and Jaden Schwartz. If Tarasenko is out, Ty Rattie could play with Robby Fabbri and Jori Lehtera.
If they both sit tonight, at Nail Yakupov will have an opportunity to get benched halfway through the second period.