Thoughts on this game:
1) As already stated, the 74/42/57 line is shutting down the Thornton line. They were so effective at shutting that line down, they moved Marleau to a different line and moved him Center.
2) At times last night, the Blues were dominating play during 5 on 5 to the point they looked like they were on the power play. The Sharks were not even touching the puck in the defensive zone during those stretches other than Niemi making saves or Sharks trying to block shots.
3) There were times the Sharks looked like they were on a power play 5-on-5, but the Blues were getting to pucks and winning battles, they just kept failing at clearing attempts or icing the puck.
To me - it looked like the Sharks were playing a stronger game, but here is the big, big difference.
4) The Blues dominated offensive and defensive zone faceoffs. The only area the Sharks beat the Blues in faceoffs was in the neutral zone. Who cares about neutral zone faceoffs? Offensive faceoff wins lead to scoring chances and defensive zone faceoffs wins lead to clean breakouts to get into the offensive zone. In this area, the Blues were dominant.
Offensive zone: won 11 of 15. Defensive zone: won 14 of 23. Scott Nichol was almost perfect winning 5 of 6. Before the 3rd period started, the Blues were winning 80+% of non-neutral zone faceoffs. The difference in play in the 3rd period which helped the Sharks - Thornton finally started winning faceoffs.
5) Sharks goal - it was a blatant rare mistake by Elliott. He straight out-right mishandled the puck. I have seen the comment about Jackman, but the puck should never have been anywhere near Jackman. Elliott grabs and holds the puck like he does 99% of the time and it's a defensive zone faceoff the Blues likely win and he gets the shutout. Elliott was outstanding the rest of the game as he has been all season.
6) It's nice seeing Andy MacDonald's name in the top 5 in assists and total points (3G 4A) considering how low-scoring this series has been and how ridiculously high-scoring the Pit/Philly series has been. Patrik Berglund is also in the top 10 in points with his 3G and 3A. Putting those two on the same line with Steen was a brilliant decision by Hitch. The Sharks still have not found an answer to stop that line.
7) #25 played better. He wasn't a defensive liability this time. The comment about him posting up in scoring areas in the Blues own end - he is supposed to do that to take away that space from the Sharks. He did not do that at all in Game 1 and did not do it in the 2nd period of Game 3 which led to him being benched for the 3rd period in that game. #25 did have some nice scoring chances which were the result of him actually skating in both ends of the ice. So, he played a better game. He still does not win one-on-one battles for pucks which is what bugs the crap out of me about his play. Someone with his size should win way more puck battles. It's reminiscent of Berglund prior to January of 2011 when Berglund wasn't using his size in front, on the boards, pretty much anywhere. That changed and Berglund has been much better since then. #25 still has not figured out how to use that size. It is only #25s third season and if he doesn't figure it out really soon, he just won't get paid. As an RFA, he will not get a significant contract offer after playing a season like this past one. Even if he does, there is no reason for the Blues to match with Schwartz already here and Tarasenko likely joining the team. I cannot fault #25s play in game 4.
Good win for the Blues. Time to end this series on Saturday.
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