It’s no question that the lack of offence has been a back-breaker for the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final. The San Jose Sharks have outplayed them for the majority of the first three games, much of that because of the speed factor. The Sharks are a fast team, they have been all year and the Blues need to counter that with their own speed and toughness. There are some offensive weapons that will need to be unleashed, starting with Game 4 if they want to get back into the series.
“A Little Man with Gumption”
For any St. Louis fan who has watched Fox Sports Midwest over the years, they know the enthusiasm of Color Commentator Darren Pang is contagious. A man short in stature himself, he always has the back of the little guys on the ice. For the Blues, Panger’s little man with gumption is typically in the form of winger Jaden Schwartz.
Schwartz has quietly climbed to the top five of the Blues’ point leaders in the playoffs. His quick feet and hands are deadly along the boards. His 5’10” frame is used as a shifty offensive weapon and he’ll need to be one of the guys to step it up and step around the Sharks come Game 4.
We need a little more speed to help us getting into the o-zone… they’re backchecking hard, we need to find a better way to get ahead of that. – Jaden Schwartz
Tough it Out
Rnd. 1 versus the Chicago Blackhawks was one of the toughest series in recent memory. In the end, St. Louis came out on top not just because of their offence and amazing goaltending but because they ultimately outmuscled their opponent.
The Sharks are no slouch but the Blues need to get back to that game and crush their opponents any chance they get. David Backes is a prime example of someone who’s throwing the body around shift after shift. While the speed of San Jose is tough to match and tough to catch up with in order to make those hits, sometimes taking the extra stride to finish off Joe Pavelski is what could be a difference maker later in the shift.
The Western Conference is a tough, hard-hitting Conference and it has been for a while. St. Louis is at its best when it utilizes the big bodies it has at both ends of the ice. When they unleash their physical play, it’ll be sure to slow down the San Jose push.
Quick Up, Quick Up
The Sharks have done a great job mitigating the Blues’ quick-exit defence. All season long they’ve been one of the best teams in the league at getting out of trouble quickly and exiting their own zone. Now it’s time to unleash the “quick up.”
It’s a phrase used on the ice (or something similar) in many rinks around North America. A quick up isn’t always an easy up, St. Louis knows how to find those gaps, though, they did it all series versus the Dallas Stars. Quick exits lead to quick strikes and with the Sharks doing their own version of the “quick up,” why not fight fire with fire?
I don’t mean to simplify any of the strategies or tactics these NHL teams take. It’s not easy when a highly skilled team with strong coaching is on the other side of the ice, but it’s now or never for St. Louis. NHL fans have seen them top two fantastic teams already in this postseason. When the Blues are firing on all cylinders, players are stepping up at key times, and their goaltending is hot (which it still is), it’s easy to see why they’re one of the remaining four teams in the league right now.