Here we go. Game six. Blues win, and they’re in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 49 years against the team that swept them in 1968 and 1969. You can’t ask for a better storyline than that.
Oh, wait, no. NHL.com goes with this as the lead story in today’s newsletter:
The Sharks could continue to be good. But when are they going to go from good to great?
Can they do it now? Can they win a third seven-game series? Can they get back to the Final? Can they defeat the Boston Bruins? Can Thornton finally raise the Stanley Cup and do it against the team that selected him No. 1 in the 1997 NHL Draft, the team that traded him to San Jose in the midst of his Hart Trophy season in 2005-06?
They have to win Game 6.
”We’ve been in this situation before, and it’s not done yet,” Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi said. “It’s one game at a time, and we focus on tomorrow’s game in St. Louis, and we are looking forward to bringing it back here to Game 7.”
And then The Hockey News’ lead story is this:
But here’s the thing: the last time San Jose was defeated so convincingly was when they went out and suffered a 5-0 shutout loss in Game 4 of the opening round against the Vegas Golden Knights. At that moment, the Sharks looked defeated. They had dropped three consecutive contests, allowed 16 goals against in their past three games and were on the cusp of elimination after taking a 1-0 series lead to start the series.
But we all know what happened. In Game 5, the Sharks came out flying and put five past Marc-Andre Fleury and downed the Golden Knights to stay alive. In Game 6, Tomas Hertl delivered a double-overtime dagger that evened the momentum heading into the series-deciding contest. And then in Game 7, a combination of a favorable major penalty call and stunning power play heroics saw San Jose claw back from certain post-season death before an overtime victory sent them to the second round.
So, are the Sharks dead? No doubt, they are close. One more loss and San Jose will be packing their bags. But this series isn’t over yet, and the Sharks can still claw back.
The fun thing here is that the Blues don’t give a damn about your narratives. I won’t lie, it’s annoying for Blues fans to see the whole “worst in the league to (potential) Western Conference Champions” storyline blown off like it happens every year, but the team itself? They don’t care. They knew what everyone expected in game four - for the team to fold - and they came out on all cylinders. They knew what everyone expected in game five - for the Sharks to win a decisive victory at home - and they flat-out steamrolled them.
And tonight? The Sharks more than likely will be without Erik Karlsson since Pete DeBoer learned a costly lesson in game five, and they may be without Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl as well. Pavelski left game five after a huge hit from Alex Pietrangelo, and Hertl’s night ended after a high hit from Ivan Barbashev. Out of concern for the health of other players, hopefully they’re both legitimately ready to go if we see them in the line-up, and it’s not DeBoer ignoring obvious player distress again.
If the Blues play like they did Sunday afternoon, we could be celebrating tonight, because if there’s something St. Louis sports can pull off in grand fashion when they feel like it, it’s disrupting a good narrative.