St. Louis has had no answer for the Sharks top line which has combined for nine points in this series.
It was early January before the San Jose Sharks faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs when Peter DeBoer decided to put the trio of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl together on the top line. The response was immediate as team teal boat-raced the Maple Leafs 7-0 on that night with Hertl finding the back of the net twice.
From that moment on, this line has been the best one in all of hockey and they’ve continued their momentum throughout the course of this postseason.
Now, the Sharks top line is showing the St. Louis Blues how dominant they can be as Ken Hitchcock’s team has had no answers for this group through the first three games.
Case in point, San Jose’s top trio combined for two goals and four assists, with a plus-six rating in Game 3 as they led the Sharks to another convincing victory.
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With the home team under pressure at the beginning of Game 3, team teal’s top line went to work in helping to turn the tide.
When Thornton corralled a loose puck in the neutral zone off a great play by Brent Burns, he put the puck right on the tape of Pavelski who then put it right on the tape of Hertl who blasted the Sharks into the lead in what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
It was a perfect illustration of the chemistry the three have developed as they quickly transitioned from defense to offense and bang, the puck was in the back of the net and San Jose never looked back.
Then, in the third, the trio combined once again for the back-breaking goal as they continued to exhibit the traits that make them so good. Pavelski entered the zone and made a nice little drop pass to Thornton who controlled the puck along the half wall.
Hertl took up position behind the goal line and fed it back up to Thornton who had quick survey of the ice to see what his options were. He then threaded the needle on a ridiculous pass right to Hertl that had Jaden Schwartz spinning before Hertl jammed the puck between the legs of Brian Elliott.
Just like that 3-0 lead, game over and good night for Elliott and the Blues.
Heading into this series, most of the talk was about the impressive job Alexander Steen, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester did in limiting such stars as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn to help them reach this point.
In this series though, the Blues have had no answers as it’s back to the drawing boards for Hitchcock and his staff. They haven’t figured out a way to slow down this dynamic trio through the first three games and St. Louis will have no chance if this continues.
All three players are great at protecting the puck and spreading out in the offensive zone. They know where each other is going to be, and Pavelski and Hertl constantly get open because Thornton will find them.
Thornton, Pavelski and Hertl are leading the charge for this Sharks group which is clicking in all aspects of their game. San Jose’s top line is controlling the action and they’ve got San Jose in their best position ever to reach the Stanley Cup Final.