The NHL only has four competitors left to claim the league’s top prize. While the East has already had its first match up between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins, ending in a Boston victory, the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues are gearing up for battle.
Advantages for the Sharks: Offense, Offense, and More Offense
This is not a claim that the Sharks do not have a good defense, in fact, it’s quite the contrary. But as far as total offensive production goes, San Jose seems to have an upper hand in that department.
The Sharks have four players that have more playoff points than any single member of the Blues. Logan Couture is one of those players. He is currently tied for the team lead with nine goals and has five assists on top of that. Matching his goal and assist total is Tomas Hertl, who is the team’s second line center right under Couture.
Defensively, the player to watch is Brent Burns. Burns has five goals and nine assists already, tying him for the team lead in points with the two players mentioned above. But what has been very special about his game, is that he has not sacrificed good defense for good offense. Big body checks and good play along the boards to take the puck from opposing teams paired with his offensive upside has him in the running for the MVP award.
Advantages for the Blues: A Defensive Style of Play and Rock Solid Goaltending
They say defense wins championships. If this is true, then the Blues have to be feeling pretty good about coming into this series. Their defensive play and goal tending has been the story thus far in the postseason.
Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo leads the charge defensively, and offensively as it turns out. He has scored a team leading 11 points through the first two rounds. It has proven very difficult to get around him and the rest of the Blues defensive core as of late.
Jordan Bennington, the Blues goaltender, is up for the Calder Trophy for rookie-of-the-year, and with good reason. His playoff save percentage stands at a 0.915% with a goals against average that is currently at a very respectable 2.39. The only downside seems to be playoff/NHL experience, but it is far from the first time we have seen a rookie goaltender take his team deep into the playoffs.
Who will take set the tone and take Game one? Tune in tonight to NBC at 8:00 PM ET to find out.