San Jose’s bounce back ability will be in the spotlight yet again following their worst performance of this series.
The San Jose Sharks were seemingly cruising along in these Western Conference finals, until the St. Louis Blues decided to wake up. The Blues brought their best effort of this series to the Shark Tank in Game 4, while the Sharks brought one of their worst.
The result: a 6-3 loss which evened this best-of-seven series at two games apiece with a crucial Game 5 set for Monday night at Scottrade Center.
Team teal will have to rediscover what worked so well for them over the first three games as they allowed the Blues to execute their game plan of being physical and grinding it out down low.
Instead of forcing St. Louis into turnover, it was San Jose who was turning the puck over at an alarming rate and fueling the Blues attack.
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First, it was Paul Martin who’s giveaway led to Jori Lehtera’s goal following a scramble in front. Then, it was Joe Thornton with an ill-advised pass to spring the Blues on a 2-on-1 that Kyle Brodziak deposited shorthanded.
Finally, Roman Polak had a chance to clear the puck before it eventually ended up with poor defensive zone coverage, leaving Brodziak all alone for the fourth goal of the game.
It was quite the reversal of fortunes as the Sharks had been the ones capitalizing on the Blues mistakes, but they were fed some of their own medicine. After setting a franchise record with back-to-back shutouts, Martin Jones was pulled after allowing four goals on 19 shots.
While they weren’t all on Jones, he was certainly with his teammates in not being as sharp as he needed to be.
The good news for team teal is they’ve shown an uncanny ability to bounce back after some of their worst performances. The Sharks own a 4-1 record following a loss in these playoffs, including a strong effort in Game 2 after losing a tough Game 1 that they easily could’ve won.
San Jose faced a similar situation after their Game 6 loss in Nashville where team teal didn’t put forth the kind of effort you expected.
What did they do? Well, they responded with perhaps the most dominant postseason performance in their history when they blitzed the Predators by a 5-0 final in Game 7.
As Peter DeBoer noted, all the issues that popped up for the Sharks in Game 4 were “fixable.” They don’t need a complete overhaul; they just have to execute better and up their desperation level.
Also, a return to form from their power play would go a long way to boosting the confidence in the group. When they’ve needed it to show up, the top unit has come through and there’s no reason to expect that won’t be the case tomorrow night.
With the ebbs and flows of the playoffs, it’s easy to get caught up in each game. The reality is San Jose played one poor game and St. Louis made them pay.
The Sharks have an opportunity to make amends for that performance in Game 5 and show the kind of resiliency that has epitomized this group all season long. Do that, and team teal will be one step away from reaching the Cup finals.