St. Louis Blues (2-2, best of seven) @ San Jose Sharks (2-2, best of seven)
May 12, 2019, 3:00 PM EST (SAP Center)
Moneyline: St. Louis Blues +115/San Jose Sharks -135
Puckline: San Jose Sharks -1.5
ESPN NHL Scores: San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues
I am very sure that the refs are happy the St. Louis Blues took game four and tied up the Western Conference Finals, 2-2. After the overtime blunder in game three, seeing the Sharks take game four would have been an absolute travesty.
Now the Blues, if you look back at this series as a whole, look like the more dominant force. Winning the last minute of regulation, in game three, would mean we’re looking at a 3-1 series lead for St. Louis. Will the tide turn in favor of the Sharks? Or have the Blues figured out a way to take down the Sharks?
St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington turned in one of his most sour performances of his career, thus far, after allowing five goals on 24 shots in game one. His .967 save percentage in game four is the no nonsense, highly skilled, calming net presence, type of performance that the Blues had gotten used to.
Binnington stood on his head. There is no denying that. But the defense was also well placed and assured that Jordan wouldn’t have to face 50 shots.
This is because the Sharks easily won the possession battle, having attempted 73 shots, compared to the Blues 35. The Conversion of attempts to ‘shots-on-net’ is abysmal for the Sharks. With only 41% of shot attempts actually making it to Binnington, it didn’t matter how long the Sharks held onto the puck.
The Blues, on the other hand, converted 63% of their shot attempts. The more efficient offensive style helped put two pucks behind Martin Jones, including a much needed Powerplay goal from Tyler Bozak.
And as long as Jaden Schwartz (9 G, 13 P) and Ryan O’Reilly (8 A, 11P) are available for the Blues, the offense should continue to compete.
San Jose Sharks
Martin Jones now owns a .904 SV%, (much better than his .896 SV% in the regular season), but the ebbs and flows in each series would suggest the flood gates may be opened soon. In his last three games, Jones is back down to an 87.3 SV%.
Jones’ first round was much worse than his second, but that’s not to say that things have been completely fixed in San Jose’s defensive department. Even in analyzing the key statistics from the possession game, a slip back into the .800’s for Jones’ SV% could mean disaster for the Sharks.
Luckily, the Sharks have that powerful offense. Logan Couture now leads all playoff skaters in points, with 20. Not far behind him is the leader in assists, during the playoffs, Erik Karlsson. As long as this offense performs at this peak level, they shouldn’t struggle to compete.
And should the Sharks control the puck possession game again, as they did in game four, they absolutely need to be more selective. The previously mentioned 41% conversion of their shot attempts will only serve to decrease morale and increase frustrations. Take note from the Carolina/Boston series: frustration is a key to losing, in the playoffs.
Cover the Spread 365 NHL Betting Trends
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis are 4-2 SU in their last 6 games.
St. Louis are 2-4 SU in their last 6 games against San Jose.
St. Louis is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games when playing on the road against San Jose.
San Jose Sharks
The total has gone OVER in 12 of San Jose’s last 14 games at home.
San Jose is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games when playing at home against St. Louis.
San Jose are 13-7 SU in their last 20 games against an opponent in the Central division.
Free NHL Predictions: St. Louis Blues @ San Jose Sharks
It is one thing to honor the betting trends and it’s another thing to see the Blues finding some stability on the defensive side of the puck. The Sharks showed that increased frustration will hurt their chances of winning. Only their “extra hands” on the ice (the NHL’s referees) have been able to help the Sharks overcome.
As long as we don’t see another absolute head-scratcher near the end of this game, the Blues confidence, poise, restraint, and maturity (which has helped them beat Martin Jones and frustrate this unbelievable offense of the Sharks) should bring the Blues back to St. Louis with a 3-2 advantage.