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American Beauty: Blues At San Jose Sharks Round 3 Game 4 Preview

Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

Time to lead, Cap'n
Time to lead, Cap'n
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In 1970 the Blues competed in their last of 3 straight Stanley Cup Final appearances. That same year, the Grateful Dead pulled of a similarly incredible feat. They published two albums in the same year, and where one might be just the leftovers from the previous album, both of their 1970 albums went Gold and eventually Platinum. One can only imagine the difficulty of recording an album, touring to support it, and at the same time putting another quality one together again. But, the hard work pays off in the end

Right now, the Blues have the chance for the first Cup Final appearance since then, and a lot of hard work to do to get there. The road is long and tough, and full of obstacles - but the reward is plenty worth the effort. The tinkering with the lineup can help, but it will mostly be the players finding the strength from within that will have the biggest impact. If they can keep truckin' along with what has gotten them thus far, we can maybe go a little further. The Sharks will not fade away quietly, of course.

The biggest story right now is Hitch's decision to start Jake Allen in goal for Game 4. There has been much outcry about this decision, but it does have some merit. Jake isn't going to score goals for us, granted, but his puck handling can help the Blues move the puck forward better. That can help the offense. This move is not a strike against Brian Elliott's performance, but rather throwing a different look at the Sharks. Also, this can have an ripple effect on the team playing in front of Jake as well. If these small changes accumulate to give the Blues an edge, why not use it? We're not losing anything in terms of making saves - I don't think we can go wrong with either goalie in that regard. Jake is a smooth operator, and he can certainly contribute. To do so, though, the other one will have to sit.

Checking, hitting, winning board battles ... those are things that used to be the hallmarks of Blues hockey. Lately, it seems to have been ceded over to the Sharks. Reclaiming those are the stepping stones to getting back on top. If the Blues can get in control of puck movement, then we can have a better chance of making the puck go where we want it to - behind Martin Jones. He is a hell of a goaltender, and he's gone on quite a tear, but we've done a lot to prop that up too. Let's try knocking that down a little, eh? There have been periods in this season (and others) where the first goal was the hardest to score. After that, they all came a little easier. Safe to say, we need that first one to go in soon, whatever it takes.

How about that 4th line, though? It isn't a stretch to say that the Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Magnus Paajarvi line was the best of the team in Game 3. They had some good shifts, got shot attempts up, and played like they knew their time there was fleeting. It is high time that the rest of the team had that sense of urgency. Hopefully, that can catch with the other lines for Game 4. I'd love to see a blowout win to shake off the paranoia, but we could just as easily be playing 'til the morning comes.

Further Reading:

Fear The Fin

The Mercury News

GameDay Twitter Feed

Final Verse: The puck drops at 6:15 St Louis time, and the GameDay Thread will drop shortly beforehand. The TV broadcast is on NBC, and the radio call will be on Y98 FM. Come join us, won't you? Since we have one more Saturday night game, I'm calling for #ShotsForGoals tonight. You'll see my progression through the night as I toss 'em down. Because there WILL be goals scored. Come join us, won't you? In the meantime, enjoy a little West on West before the Western Conference Final: