(HockeyStL) – Game three between the Blues and Sharks should be everything a hockey fan could want. There will be plenty of physical play, skill and tenacity. It’s time for the Blues to prove that they are able to compete at a high level, and keep their cool, even when facing a team that has one thing on its mind: revenge.
A total of 132 penalty minutes, a broken helmet, and a broken nose were mementos of game two of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. The game started out relatively quiet, but ended with a bang, when three fights broke out after the final horn sounded. The Blues were able to secure a three to nothing win, and tie the series at one, but better prepare for the physicality that game three will bring.
The Blues had complete control of the game from start to finish, and rarely did the Sharks have any answer for the Blues at either end. The Blues fired 32 shots on goal, and converted three of them into goals.
A Barret Jackman collision with goaltender Jaroslav Halak presented a scare for the Blues to start the second period. Halak left the game and Brian Elliott came off the bench to replace him. The Blues announced that Halak has a lower-body injury, but will make the trip with the team to San Jose where the Blues are sure to be in for a battle after the extracurricular activity that took place in game two.
The Sharks clearly targeted Blues veteran winger Andy McDonald in game two. While McDonald was playing a loose puck along the boards, Sharks’ forward T.J. Galiardi charged Andy McDonald, clearly targeting the head. The impact of the hit caused McDonald’s helmet to crack, but that would be the worst of the damage as McDonald was unscathed. Expecting more of the same in game three, the Blues must protect players like McDonald that have a long history with injuries. This would be a precursor to the events that took place after the final horn sounded.
After the final whistle the Sharks took exception to a B.J. Crombeen hit that occurred just seconds before the game ended. Tension had been building between the teams, and Hitchcock made sure that his tough guys were on the ice just in case. It paid off.
Vladimir Sobotka got tangled up with Shark’s center Dominic Moore away from the pack of players behind the net. Moore started taunting Sobotka, and taking exception to it, Sobotka quickly took Moore down, but in the process delivered what Shark’s Coach Todd McLellan has labeled as a sucker-punch, and broke Moore’s nose.
Braun wanted to take Polak on for size, but he soon came to regret that decision. Polak pummeled Braun, and made it clear that he won’t back down to anyone else who wants to travel down the same path as Braun.
After the game Hitchcock stated, “Boys will be boys. You found out, don’t open the Roman Polak door. Don’t ever open that door."
On a night where referees Marc Joannette and Brian Pochmara, dished out a total of 132 penalty minutes, 88 of them came after the final horn. This heated finish should lead to a very physical game on Monday in San Jose.
Needless to say, game three has all of the making of a great game. The Blues have all of the momentum now, and will be looking to retain it on Monday. Game three could be a critical game for both sides, as it could set the tone moving forward. The Blues will be expecting a push from the Sharks early in game three, and they will need to be ready to push back. The Blues are on the Sharks’ turf now, and must adjust accordingly. The Sharks will be looking to exact revenge on the Blues for the activities that occurred in game two. To regain momentum the Sharks will look to expose any Blues’ weakness, and capitalize on it. The Blues, needless to say, cannot allow this to happen and must be sharp early. There is no need for the Note to get involved in extracurricular activities with the Sharks, who will try to lure the Blues into their trap. The Blues need to remain focused on the task at hand, and continue to play their style of hockey, not the Sharks’.