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Blues at Sharks Preview: Fear the Beard

Blues look to get back on track with another late night game against the reigning Western Conference Champions

NHL: San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Blues are going to try and mascaraed as an actual NHL hockey team when they match up against last years Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks in the second of the Blues three game road trip.

Thursday night the Blues attempted to take on the ninth best team in the Western Conference which worked about as well as a screen door on a submarine. Tonight, they look to break their two game losing streak using an offense that doesn’t shoot the puck, a defense that gives up more time and space than a trip to Mars, and a backup goaltender. All the while doing it against the fourth best team in the Western Conference. What could go wrong?

Despite being ineffective and underwhelming for the last two games this could be the game that snaps the Blues out of their month long funk. The Blues did win the last time these two teams squared off beating the Sharks 3-2. However, that was a loooong time ago in an arena far far away from California.

Tonight’s Lineups

(Get a load of these babies)

Forwards:

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Alexander Steen

Nail Yakupov - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Patrik Berglund - David Perron

Dmitrij Jaskin - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Defense:

Alex Pietrangelo - Colton Parayko

Jay Bouwmeester - Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo

Goalie:

Carter Hutton

As I’m sure you have noticed Ken Hitchcock’s lineup generator was working at maximum production when it cranked out these pairings.

It appears the coach has decided that Tarasenko wasn’t being dragged down far enough with just Lehtera on his back so he threw on a shifty and unpredictable young winger to make sure the opposing defense can focus completely on the Blues best player without having to worry about anyone else.

Also tonight, the Blues third leading goal scorer Robby Fabbri gets the center he has always dreamed about. When I think of a dynamic play making center man the first Blues player that pops into my head is always Patrik Berglund. I smell hat trick.

When NHL.com asked about the new lines coach Ken Hitchcock had this to say:

“That left wing spot is interchangeable. We liked the way all three lines played in the third period (against Los Angeles), and really towards the end of the second (period) is when we made the change. We liked what we saw and we want to see if there’s some budding chemistry there... We’ve just got to read it to see how it looks. If it looks good, we’ll stay with it. If not, we won’t hesitate on making a change on the left side”.

I am going to go ahead and set the over/under for these lines sticking together at two minutes. Smart money is on the under.

Sharks Projected Lineup

Forwards:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Kevin Labanc - Logan Couture - Mikkel Boedker

Timo Meier - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward

Micheal Haley - Tommy Wingels - Melker Karlsson

Defense:

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - David Schlemko

Goalie:

Martin Jones

Hey, you remember that guy who sucker punched Tarasenko in the ribs while he was laying on the ice in last year’s conference finals? Well, he now leads all NHL defensemen in points and offensive facial hair. He also leads his team in goals, assists and points. Brent Burns is a six-hundred pound gorilla that can skate and shoot like you dream about. Tarasenko hasn’t had a shot on goal in his last two games. This should be fun.

Sharks net minder Martin Jones is posting a .917 Sa% and a 2.24 GAA which is good for 23rd in the NHL. Lets not talk about Carter Hutton’s stats shall we.

The Sharks have a record of 25-15-2 and a +16 goal differential. The Blues have given up five goals in their last two outings and are in danger of failing out of third place in their division but hey, who’s counting.

Prediction

I believe this could be just the game to get the Blues back on track. The Sharks are a team that this club knows fairly well and always plays a strong game against them. The perfect opponent to regain the team’s focus and determination. As long as the Blues are committed to checking and playing the solid type of defense they are usually known for they should be able to keep San Jose close. A lucky bounce or maybe a power play goal might be the difference in this game.