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GDT 4/8: Game 1 - Blues @ San Jose

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  • GDT 4/8: Game 1 - Blues @ San Jose

    GAME: St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks.
    PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; Game 1.

    TIME: Thursday, 9 p.m. CDT.

    The San Jose Sharks' turnaround has been nothing short of amazing.

    After finishing with one of the NHL's worst records last season, the Western Conference's second-seeded team gets a chance to prove itself in postseason play as it opens a first-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

    The Sharks finished second-to-last in the West last season, but head into these playoffs as the Pacific Division champions with a franchise-record 104 points.

    The Sharks wound up with the NHL's third-best record, and finished with six victories in their final seven games.

    "We find a lot of ways to surprise you," said the Sharks' Brad Stuart, who developed into one of the league's best at his position this season. "We're not a surprise to ourselves, though. Nobody has really expected us to do much all year, but as long as we're confident in this room, that's all that matters."

    Stuart finished the regular season with nine goals and a career-high 39 points, both tops among San Jose defensemen. He quarterbacks the Sharks' power play, and his passing is just as good as his powerful shot.

    Stuart has also been exhibiting the mental discipline and maturity necessary to become a star defenseman. He's rarely caught out of position anymore, and has emerged as a leader for the young team.

    "He's a guy who's going to be a big star for this team in the future," Sharks center Vincent Damphousse said. "He's one of those guys that's elevated his game to get us to where we are today."

    Depth is one of San Jose's biggest strengths and coach Ron Wilson said he will not shy away from experimenting with his lines to find the best matchups.

    "You'll see a lot of mixing up and riding the hot hand," Wilson said. "Players have to be prepared. If it is not a good night, they have to step aside. I won't hesitate to make a move if a guy is a detriment that night. Hopefully not, but it is my job to read that."

    Evgeni Nabokov has also played a major part in the Sharks' resurgence, posting 31 wins and a 2.20 goals-against average.

    St. Louis brings a wealth of postseason experience to the first-round matchup. The Blues have qualified for the playoffs each season since 1980, a 25-year streak that's the longest active run in the four major professional sports.

    "I think we're ready to go," said St. Louis right wing Mark Rycroft, who has returned after an 11-game absence with a leg injury. "We looked at this game as a chance for some of us to shake the rust off. But the team has played very well in the last 15 games or so."

    The Blues are used to breezing into the playoffs, so they're hoping the late push that got them in this year will give them some early momentum in the postseason.

    In ninth place in the Western Conference when coach Joel Quenneville was fired on Feb. 24, St. Louis rose to seventh under Mike Kitchen.

    "We've been playing must-win games for more than a month," Blues right wing Jamal Mayers said. "We put ourselves in a hole, but we're having some success of late and hopefully that can continue."

    Chris Pronger anchors St. Louis' defense. The offense is far from explosive, having scored just 191 goals - the fewest among playoff teams.

    This is the third time in five seasons the teams have met in the postseason. Each team has won one series. In 2000, the eighth-seeded Sharks upset the Blues in the first round. In 2001, the fourth-seeded Blues beat the Sharks to open the playoffs.

    HOW THEY GOT HERE: Blues - 91 points; 7th seed. Sharks - 104 points; 2nd seed.

    TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Keith Tkachuk, 33 goals and 71 points; Doug Weight, 51 assists; Reed Low and Mike Danton, 141 PIM. Sharks - Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo, 28 goals; Nils Ekman, 33 assists, Marleau, 57 points; Scott Parker, 101 PIM.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: Blues - Power play: 17.9 percent (61 for 341), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (312 for 369), 15th. Sharks - Power play: 16.6 percent (56 for 337), 13th. Penalty killing: 85.3 percent (272 for 319), 7th.

    GOALTENDERS: Blues - Chris Osgood (31-25-8, 3 SO, 2.24 GAA); Reinhard Divis (4-4-2, 2.76). Sharks - Nabokov (31-19-8, 9, 2.21); Vesa Toskala (12-8-4, 1, 2.06).

    REGULAR SEASON SERIES: 2-2. San Jose outscored St. Louis 4-1 en route to winning the last two games of the series. Marco Sturm had three goals in the four games for the Sharks, while Chris Pronger had a goal and two assists for the Blues.



    source


    Mr. G

  • #2
    Talk about Premature Posting....

    Mr. G...little "pumped" up for the Blues???

    Comment


    • #3
      Sharks Get Another Playoff Date With Blues

      SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - For the San Jose Sharks to prove that their resurgence was more than a winter anomaly, they must bloom in the playoffs this spring.

      "I think our guys know that they've had the best regular season in the history of the Sharks," coach Ron Wilson said. "They also know that the regular season is over."

      The second-seeded Sharks will face the St. Louis Blues in the first round, with Game 1 set for Thursday night.

      The teams have a fairly colorful history, including two postseason meetings. San Jose memorably knocked off top-seeded St. Louis in 2000 after the Blues finished the regular season with the NHL's best record.

      This season, San Jose finished with the league's third-best record and its second Pacific Division title, while the Blues needed an outstanding finish to sneak into the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season - the longest streak in major professional sports.

      To the surprise of even their coach, the Sharks made a 31-point improvement over last season and cruised to the playoffs. San Jose used the same formula repeated time and again - speed, preparation, discipline and stellar goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov - and few teams were able to counter it.

      But the Blues have won nine of their last 12 games at the Shark Tank, and they have a history of bitter, physical victories here. Just listen to the Sharks' fans, who have booed Blues defenseman Chris Pronger every time he touched the puck for the last five years.

      "This is a great rivalry, and I think you see that in the games we play," Blues forward Jamal Mayers said. "There's a lot of good games between these teams, usually not a lot of mistakes. They're a tough matchup for us, and I think we give them a lot of problems."

      Still, the Blues expressed hope they would face San Jose in the first round, thinking the Sharks' young roster might be a good matchup for a team with several playoff-tested veterans. They include Stanley Cup-winning goalie Chris Osgood, who practically carried St. Louis to the playoffs with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage while winning eight games in March.

      Both teams enter the playoffs on lengthy winning runs. San Jose finished the regular season 10-2-1, while the Blues went 10-3-2 to hold off Nashville and Edmonton in a lively race for the seventh spot.

      "Hopefully they've been fatigued a little bit by what they had to do to get into the playoffs," Sharks center Alyn McCauley said. "But they're a veteran team that's going to know how to get ready for the playoffs. I wouldn't say we're excited about facing them, or any team. If we forget to work hard or play our style, we'll be in trouble."

      The teams last met in San Jose on Feb. 29, when Nabokov outdueled Osgood in a 1-0 victory. St. Louis' Steve Martins set up the only goal with a bad pass in his own zone, and he has played in just two games since.

      With a roster populated by rough-and-tumble players but few speedsters, the Blues seem likely to counter San Jose's speed with physical play. That's Pronger's specialty, of course, but he's just one part of a tough defense that includes Bryce Salvador and Matt Walker - better known to St. Louis fans as the Bruise Brothers.

      Though Wilson intends to tinker with line combinations if production slips, the Sharks won't change much, because their formula was good enough to win their division.

      "We've been relying on everybody through the season, and that can't stop," center Vincent Damphousse said. "We're going to roll four lines and get contributions out of everybody. We've all got to keep working hard and winning battles."



      source


      Mr. G

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Indu WangZi@Apr 8 2004, 01:15 AM
        Talk about Premature Posting....

        Mr. G...little "pumped" up for the Blues???

        What? It's gameday, dammit!

        Ahh, can't wait...
        Official 2014-15 Lounge Sponsor of Jori Lehterä
        "He'll Finnish You Off"

        Comment


        • #5

          "This is a great rivalry, and I think you see that in the games we play," Blues forward Jamal Mayergh-and-tumble players but few speedsters, the Blues seem likely to counter San Jose's speed with physical play. That's Pronger's specialty, of course, but he's just one part of a tough defense that includes Bryce Salvador and Matt Walker - better known to St. Louis fans as the Bruise Brothers.

          Salvador and Walker are known as the Bruise Brothers? Who calls them that?

          Comment


          • #6
            Walker sucks...better not play...

            "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
            Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
            -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Rhinelander@Apr 8 2004, 01:19 AM

              "This is a great rivalry, and I think you see that in the games we play," Blues forward Jamal Mayergh-and-tumble players but few speedsters, the Blues seem likely to counter San Jose's speed with physical play. That's Pronger's specialty, of course, but he's just one part of a tough defense that includes Bryce Salvador and Matt Walker - better known to St. Louis fans as the Bruise Brothers.

              Salvador and Walker are known as the Bruise Brothers? Who calls them that?
              Just a Californian journalist's attempt to sound cool, I suppose!
              Official 2014-15 Lounge Sponsor of Jori Lehterä
              "He'll Finnish You Off"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 007@Apr 8 2004, 12:20 AM
                Walker sucks...better not play...
                And Salvador is overrated by Blues fans

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rhinelander+Apr 8 2004, 01:22 AM-->
                  QUOTE (Rhinelander @ Apr 8 2004, 01:22 AM)

                • #10
                  Originally posted by Rhinelander+Apr 8 2004, 01:22 AM-->
                  QUOTE (Rhinelander @ Apr 8 2004, 01:22 AM)

                • #11
                  Walker sucks...better not play...
                  Salvador sucks too. So does Finley. And Khavanov.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Originally posted by devaskar@Apr 8 2004, 12:28 AM
                    Walker sucks...better not play...
                    Salvador sucks too. So does Finley. And Khavanov.
                    Jeebus...

                    Who's left...

                    Right...we got Pronger, Backman and Jackman...

                    We rock!!!!

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by ohio BLUES+Apr 8 2004, 12:23 AM-->
                      QUOTE (ohio BLUES @ Apr 8 2004, 12:23 AM)
                      Originally posted by [email protected] 8 2004, 01:22 AM

                    • #14
                      Originally posted by Rhinelander@Apr 8 2004, 01:30 AM
                      I think he just likes to run around and try and hit people along the boards.
                      DING ©

                      I missed you rhine!

                      "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
                      Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
                      -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by devaskar@Apr 8 2004, 01:28 AM
                        Walker sucks...better not play...
                        Salvador sucks too. So does Finley. And Khavanov.
                        Khavanov's out for a week w/ what could be a broken foot....

                        "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
                        Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
                        -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

                        Comment

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