The question surrounding Game 1 of the Western Conference Final was did the San Jose Sharks even deserve to be here? Controversy still loomed over their Round 1 game 7 five minute major. This is when they scored 4 goals during a power play to help them come back from a 3-0 deficit against the Vegas Golden Knights. On top of that, in Round 2 a second controversial call occurred as the Av’s were called offside on a goal, which was clearly not as conclusive as others thought.
On the other side of the ice the St. Louis Blues on January 3rd were in last place. It is now May 11th and they are in the Western Conference Finals. How did they turn it around? Many say they finally put all the pieces together, some die hard fans may chalk it up to a good luck charm. In our opinion the credit should mostly be given to net-minder Jordan Binnington. He has had a phenomenal season with a 24-5 record and a 1.89 GAA, then backing that up with a 2.39 GAA in the Postseason. If the Blues are to have a shot in this series he will be the determining factor.
As the puck dropped at the SAP Center it appeared in the first couple minutes that both teams would be very tentative. In the first 3 minutes you it looked as if the length of the playoffs was staring to take a toll on both teams.
Wow, were we wrong. A minute later a barrage of 1st period scoring started with a 2 on 1 lead by Joe Thorton who feed Logan Couture for an easy goal into an open net. Binnington could not be blamed for this goal as he had no chance as Thorton’s saucer pace was perfect. All other goals, Binnington could be blamed for!
The Blues would bounce back quickly as with just under 11 minutes left in the first Taresanko entered the Shraks zone and gracefully left a drop pass for Jaden Schwartz who took a quick wrist shot that Jones was unable to handle.
Just as it seemed like the Blues had gotten the momentum back in their favor, their own defensemen took a pair of penalties to give the Sharks a 5 on 3 opportunity. Bouwmeester took a questionable interference call, followed by Parayko with a blatant slashing penalty. During the power play the Sharks moved the puck any which way they wanted with the two man advantage. It finally resulted with a Brent Burns pass to the captain Pavelski who slammed a shot off Binnington’s right pad and then rebounded his own shot out of the air to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead.
The Sharks took this lead into the locker room even after being out shot in the 1st period 10-9.
The 2nd period stared just like the 1st a little tentative from both teams. Even after Bozak took a hooking penalty (which was killed off by the Blues), it looked like it would be a hard fought Under 1.5 kind of period…
Again, the perception of how the period would turn out was much different then reality. The Blues in an odd sequence had trouble clearing the puck to the red line which allowed Thorton to send his second assist to Kevin Labanc who put one past Binnington to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. However, just as the Blues responded in the 1st period, they again showed resilience 1 minute later. O’Reilly made a nice maneuver with the puck to go around an out of net Martin to get the Blues back within one.
In keeping with the theme of “anything you can do I can do better” just ninety seconds later the Sharks took back a two goal lead. Logan Couture created a great turnover just inside the Blues zone as the Blues defense were trying to clear the puck. This lead to Timo Meier having a chance all alone against Binnington. Clearly Meier’s moves were no match for the Blues goalie as Meier made a series of moves essentially faking out Binnington to easily put the puck in and in turn putting the Sharks up 4-2.
At this point the Over 5.5 at +115 was a easy blowout winner!
Timo Meier’s moves to record his first goal of the night were unreal, with about 2:30 left in the 2nd Meier added another which was a little less pretty. As Vlasic entered the zone and fired a shot wide of the net Meier skated behind and flicked the puck towards the net. Unfortunate for the Blues and Binnington it ricocheted off Dunn and into the goal. At this point the -130 ML on the Sharks was looking like a cheap price.
Heading into the locker room at the end of the 2nd period the Sharks were only outshouting the Blues 20 to 19, however, where it counted the scoreboard it was very one sided 5-2.
The 3rd period was very mundane as you would expect with the lead the Sharks had taken. The St. Louis Blues had a chance on a power play early but you could tell that they had given up on the game before they even came back on the ice and nothing came of it.
Eventually with seven minutes left in the game the Blues held the zone for a bit and Bozak put one past Martin after he had made a couple great saves. Having cut the lead to 5-3 the Blues seemed to have a little bit of hop in their step as they immediately went right back into the offensive zone and had some great opportunities but nothing came of it.
With four minutes left in the game the Blues pulled the goalie being down two goals. The Blues for almost two minutes had a rapid fire shots towards Jones and the Sharks goal. However Jones was spectacular and eventually Couture put the game out of reach with a empty net goal making it 6-3.
The Blues Bouwmeester was not going to give up his pride as decided he wanted to get some punches in before the final horn. We should all watch to see if this type of physicality carries over to Game 2.
As stated in the beggining of the blog the Blues success lies in their goalie. Binnington needs to be much better in Game 2 as the Blues out shot the Sharks 30-25 but lost the game.
- Blues: 0/1
- Sharks: 1/4
Grandstand Players of the Game:
- Timo Meier … he is the player of the game almost solely based on the moves he put on Binnington, who was just memorized! This was by far the best goal of the playoffs! He added a second on the night solidifying him as the top player.
- Joe Thorton…Even at 39 years young he continues to impress. His first pass to set up the Couture goal was a thing of beauty. Adding a second assist on the night was just the icing on the cake.
Betting Stats on the Night
- Moneyline Winner – Sharks -130
- Over / Under Winner – Over 5.5 +115
- Puckline Winner – Sharks -1.5 +140