Are the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues rivals in disguise? Maybe.
The Blues are in the West Division alongside the Sharks. I’ll let you decide, but San Jose has been a pesky opponent for St. Louis since the 2016 Western Conference Finals. In that series, San Jose eliminated St. Louis in six games.
Here’s a quick recap of the series:
Game 1: David Backes scored a goal on the power play. Tomas Hertl tied the game 1-1. Jori Lehtera scored the go-ahead goal. Blues won 2-1 and took a 1-0 series lead. Brian Elliott made 31 saves.
Game 2: Tommy Wingels scored a goal. Brent Burns scored two power-play goals. Dainius Zubrus scored an unassisted, insurance goal. Sharks shutout the Blues 4-0 and tied the series 1-1. Martin Jones made 26 saves for his second Stanley Cup Playoffs shutout.
Game 3: Tomas Hertl scored two goals, while Joonas Donskoi scored one goal. The Sharks blanked the Blues 3-0 for a 2-1 series lead. Martin Jones made 22 saves for his second straight shutout.
Game 4: Troy Brouwer, Jori Lehtera, Kyle Brodziak, and Alex Pietrangelo scored six goals for the Blues. Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney, and Melker Karlsson scored three goals for the Sharks. The Blues won 6-3 and evened the series 2-2.
Game 5: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joel Ward, Joe Pavelski, and Chris Tierney scored six goals for the Sharks. Jaden Schwartz, Troy Brouwer, and Robby Fabbri scored three goals for the Sharks. The Sharks won 6-3 and took a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6: Joe Pavelski, Joel Ward, and Logan Couture scored five goals for the Sharks. Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals for the Blues. The Sharks won 5-2 and reached their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. San Jose entered the NHL in 1991-92.
I covered the series, but as a Sharks beat reporter for Inside Hockey, which was my first job out of college. I went on to cover my first Stanley Cup Final. I’m sure Blues fans rejoiced when the Sharks lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. I had a blast covering my first Stanley Cup Final at 22 years old.
While I’m no longer the sweet, innocent Sharks reporter that I was initially branded, I’ve come a long way in my career and endured a lot of abuse and drama in the process. I worked hard and became a fighter.
Five years later, I’m a Blues writer for St. Louis Game Time. It’s hard to believe that I’m covering the potential enemy, but hey, I’m honored to cover the last of the six expansion teams. The Blues have had quite a lot of history since 1967. I promise you two things: honest statements and hot takes. I’ll say what’s on my mind, but I’ll listen to others.
I’ve budged, but the Sharks’ peskiness apparently hasn’t budged.
Although the Blues won this year’s eight-game season series 5-3, their wins against the Sharks didn’t come easy. But, to be fair, most of the Blues’ issues were a direct result of their devastating injuries and subpar goaltending. The same thing could be said for the Blues’ elimination by the Sharks.
Unlike the Sharks, the Blues bounced back. The Blues hired Craig Berube as an interim head coach in 2018. Berube later became a head coach and has been with the Blues ever since. The Blues were in last place in 2018-19, but they went on a 11-game winning streak between February and March, and the rest was history.
Blues rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington became an eventual finalist in the race for the Calder Trophy. The Blues advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970. They defeated the Sharks in six games in their Western Conference Finals rematch. They went on to the Stanley Cup Final and defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games to win their first-ever Stanley Cup.
Meanwhile, the Sharks never returned to the Stanley Cup Final. Peter DeBoer and his coaching staff were fired in 2019. After that, the Bob Boughner era began in San Jose.
The Blues have been affected by bad luck, average goaltending, and injury bugs. But storms don’t last forever. If the Blues miss the playoffs this season, then there’s next season. By that time, St. Louis should be a healthier, stronger team.