I would be remiss if I didn't open this preview with a congratulations to Vladimir Tarasenko and his wife on the birth of their child Alexandr. Don't be surprised to see Vladdy with a bit of a spring in his step during tonight's game, much like Ryan Reaves and Kyle Brodziak had after the birth of their children this season.
Alot of the Blues should have a spring in their step tonight, after Sunday's flat game one. A second period lull didn't backfire, but the Blues need to maintain some intensity. Brent Burns isn't going to turn the puck over every time that he has it. As Patrik Berglund put it, "I think [Sunday] night was probably one of the worst we played this playoffs."
And still, they won. Why? Tenacity of the captain David Backes, and the flash and saves of Brian Elliott, who has been playing at Conn Smythe level for nearly the whole of the playoffs. Bailing the Blues out through turnovers and questionable zone clears, Elliott's 31 save performance was a huge reason that the Blues are leading the series 1-0.
Tonight's game is going to require more tenacity, and much more support from players not named Backes. San Jose's top line was mostly stymied by Elliott, but it's not going to continue that way forever if the Blues don't push back. Two teams this evenly matched up isn't a rarity in the conference finals; the Blues need an extra gear to put San Jose in a two game hole heading back.
It's important to focus on where the next two games will be: the Sharks have lost one game at home this post-season, while the Blues are .500 at Scottrade. Sure, St. Louis has played exceedingly well on the road, but a little home win insurance never hurt anyone.
It would also be prudent not to give the Sharks' power play any chances. You know, since the Blues are "one of the most penalized teams in the league," or something. Pete DeBoer mentioned that about 75 times yesterday. It's almost like the Blues've gotten into the coach's head or something. Maybe Brian Elliott and the rest of the team can work their way into the Sharks' heads.