Programming note: Sharks-Blues coverage gets underway today at 5 p.m. on NBCSN. Can't find a TV? Watch it streaming live with NBC Sports Live Extra
ST. LOUIS – In order for the Sharks to stay perfect, they’ll have to find a way to beat the team that has given them the most headaches over the past two seasons.
The Blues have outscored the Sharks 20-10 over the last seven games, winning six of them (and not including their five-game playoff series win in 2012). San Jose’s lone regular season win over St. Louis came last Feb. 19, after a presumably tired Blues club had major travel issues and flew in from Vancouver the morning of the game.
On Tuesday morning, I asked T.J. Oshie how his club has been so dominant against the Sharks in recent seasons.
“I think just using our depth; keep playing and keep going through them,” Oshie said. “Obviously, they’ve got some key players that can make some big plays, and limiting their chances and making them work a little harder than they want to has given us success. We’ve got to keep doing it.”
What does Oshie expect tonight?
“A high-intensity game. I think it’s going to be fast. Watching some of their video, they come really hard. We’ve got a big test tonight, and have just got to play our game.”
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There were differing opinions among the two head coaches as to the similarities in the Sharks’ and Blues’ styles of play.
First, Ken Hitchcock: “Almost identical. No change. We all come from a group of coaches that have the same belief system and same terminology. We tweak it. Some is from the older guys who have been around a bit, Mike [Babcock] and myself, but a lot of it is a similar belief system. You can go six or seven teams deep who believe in the same philosophy and we’re all the same.”
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McLellan, unaware of Hitchcock’s comments earlier in the morning, has a different viewpoint.
“We have a way that we believe we have to play. They have a way that they need to play. I don’t think it’s exactly the same by any means,” McLellan said. “There’s different aspects of the game that are different with every team in the league. They’re minute, they’re not often visible all the time, but different teams have different styles.”
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One of the more remarkable stats regarding Joe Thornton’s line, with Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns, is that they have yet to be on the ice for a goal-against.
Burns leads the NHL with a +9 rating. Thornton is a +8, while Hertl is a +7.
“Hopefully, [we] keep it going. We’ll see,” Thornton said. “When we’ve had some scoring chances against us, [Antti NIemi] has been there. That’s one of those stats that [you] might be a little fooled sometimes. But, it’s nice not being scored on when you’re out there.”