Welcome to the Western Conference Finals. No, I am being completely serious. This is not a fucking drill. This is not NHL 2016 or 2017 and you are drunk on Pepsi and Cheetos and seeing shit in the crosshairs. The St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks are going to clash and there can be only one victor. As Frank Grillo said on the underrated show Kingdom, "The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." BOOM! Drop the damn puck. Hold on, let me talk some more.
The Sharks aren't going down easy folks. They kicked Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings ass in Round 1 like the LA bunch stole something from their mother's jewelry box. They outlasted the Nashville Predators in a brutal toe to toe series that included a slaughter in Game 7(sounds familiar). They have big scorers like Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton and playmakers like Brent "Chewbecca" Burns and Logan Couture. Their goalie, Martin Jones(does he rob banks or is he just quietly British?) is solid if not spectacular. They are physical and have the size to match the Blues biggest bodies in David Backes on the forecheck.
The Blues pummeled the Dallas Stars in Game 7 after shitting the bed a few times. They outlasted the Chicago Blackhawks and dissolved a demon from their past in doing so. This team is playing like they have nothing to lose and it weighs on the other team. The Blues pile on the shots, the hits and the blocks like a relentless body puncher inside a cage. Resilience doesn't begin to explain it but even Ken Hitchcock admires the tenacity that this team has shown in reaching the Conference finals for the first time in 15 years.
Who has the upper hand? The Sharks power play may be better than the Blues in the playoffs but it wasn't over the course of the regular season. They rank 2nd(Sharks) and fourth(Blues) in the postseason. The Sharks penalty kill was abysmal in the regular season but it's been just as good as the Blues in the postseason.
Who is averaging the most goals per game this postseason? The Blues. Yeah, take a drink. The third line of Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny, and Troy Browuer is working like a wicked charm on other teams not taking it seriously enough after the STL line outskates them and the Backes line beats their asses around the slab of ice.
I'd like to say the Blues are going to be done with these Sharks quickly but I'd be as full of shit as if I was telling you Dunkin Donuts coffee is worth drinking. This is going another brutal seven games and they won't be easy to watch. The Sharks may surround these Blues, smell blood, like it, and take an early lead tonight. The Blues should relax and know they've already defeated their big brother and the highest scoring team in the West. Each of these teams have a set of brass balls that will be tested.
Can Brian Elliott keep displaying the kind of goaltending that legends talk about? The Sharks have knocked out some impressive goaltenders so he will be challenged. Can Alex Pietrangelo keep fueling the high minutes and stay as effective? Can Jay Bouwmeester not fuck up a wet dream? Will Colton Parayko emerge as the lethal weapon from the point that officially goes berserk this series? Can Vladimir Tarasenko outshine Pavelski?
Pavelski is going up against his University of Wisconsin teammate Elliott? Who wins between those two? I am sure Joe will get some open looks at the net? The Blues kept Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Jamie Benn in check during the first two rounds. Will that continue with San Jose or does the magic run out?
Get this Blues fans. They are here and earned every damn inch of the ride. This Blues team is for real. This series will show how for real they are. Forget about the Lightning and Penguins. The Sharks stand in front of the Blues first Stanley Cup appearance since the early 1970's. Wrap your head around that. The last time the Blues played for the Stanley Cup, Woodstock was still burning away in people's minds. Yeah, baby. History is knocking on the door. San Jose has never been to the Stanley Cup Finals, only getting as far as this series 12 years ago against the Calgary Flames.
They never said it was supposed to be easy folks, but there are the strong and the weak. The Blues and Sharks are the last teams standing in the West. Who gets a ticket to the Finals?
My prediction is Blues in seven games. Buy extra bourbon and be prepared for long frustrating nights. This love song is going to be extended and include encores. Trust me on the bourbon part.