February 22 – Day 130 – Theme from Jaws

Yesterday’s Game of the Day between the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers was a showing of excellent goaltending, as the only goal of the game was scored after 61:59 of play by the Blueshirts.

It came courtesy of Kevin Klein on a wrister assisted by Kevin Hayes (his 18th helper of the season) and Chris Kreider.

Henrik Lundqvist earns the win after saving all 22 shots he faced, and Jimmy Howard takes the overtime loss after saving all but one of his 30 shots faced (96.7%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 58-30-12, favoring the home squads by 33 points over the roadies.

Only four games are being played this Monday, and half of them drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Columbus at Boston and Arizona at Washington), followed half an hour later by Nashville at Montréal.  This evening’s night cap drops the puck at 8 p.m. eastern when San Jose visits St. Louis (NBCSN).

None of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries, and San JoseSt. Louis is the only contest between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.  Because of that, we head to the Scottrade Center!

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If these logos were emojis, this song is what they would be trying to communicate.

Tonight’s game is San Jose‘s sixth in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 3-2-0 record, and their first since beating the Stars 4-3 in overtime in the Tank on January 16.  St. Louis has been featured a dozen times before this evening’s game, and own a 7-4-1 record in the series, with their most recent being a 2-1 overtime winner against the Stars on Tuesday.

The 31-21-5 San Jose Sharks currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division and sixth in the Western Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played a top-10 offense paired with the 13th-best defense.

Led by Brent Burns’ 249 shots, the Sharks have fired the puck an incredible 1714 times, with 9.6% finding the back of the net for 168 goals (led by Joe Pavelski’s 26 tallies), seventh-most in the NHL.  Much of that success can be attributed to San Jose‘s power play, which capitalizes on 22.16% of opposing penalties for 43 extra-man goals (led by Pavelski’s eight).

The defense has been no slouch themselves, as the Sharks have allowed only 1574 shots (led by Burns’ 114 blocks) to reach 28-16-3 Martin Jones and co., of which they’ve saved 91% for 154 goals against, 13th-fewest in the league.  Probably the biggest holes in San Jose‘s game has been their penalty kill, which neutralizes a 15th-worst 80.47% of penalties for 33 power play goals against.

The Sharks‘ last result was a 5-2 loss in Carolina on Friday that ended their three-game win streak.  Should San Jose earn the win this evening, they will close the gap between them and second place Anaheim to one point.

The 35-17-9 St. Louis Blues currently occupy third place in the Central Division and the Western Conference.  They play the seventh-best defense in the league, but it is paired with an offense that has scored 14th-fewest goals.  A more in-depth analysis of St. Louis‘ game can be found within last Tuesday’s post.

St. Louis is currently riding a best in the league five-game win streak, with their most recent being a 6-4 victory in Arizona on Saturday.  Should the Blues earn the win this evening, they will jump the Stars for second place in both the Central and Western Conference by a point, although Dallas will have two fewer games played, by virtue of losing a regulation+overtime wins tiebreaker with the Blackhawks.

These squads have only met up once this season, with San Jose winning 3-1 in St. Louis on February 4.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include San Jose‘s Jones (five shutouts [tied for second-most in the league] and 28 wins [tied for fourth-most in the league]), Pavelski (26 goals [seventh-most in the league] and 54 points [tied for ninth-most in the league]) and Joe Thornton (39 assists [tied for fifth-most in the league]) & St. Louis‘ Jake Allen (five shutouts [tied for second-most in the league], 2.17 GAA [tied for sixth-best in the league] and .924 save percentage [tied for eighth-best in the league]) or Brian Elliott (.931 save percentage [leads the league] and 2.06 GAA [tied for best in the league]), Colton Parayko (+22 [tied for fourth-best in the league]) and Vladimir Tarasenko (28 goals [sixth-most in the league]).

Ah, the point of the post has come where I have to make a prediction.  It is well documented across this site my allegiance to the Notes, which is what makes this prediction even more difficult.  Frankly, I think San Jose is fully capable of beating St. Louis regardless of location, made evident on February 4, but the Blues are one of, if not the hottest team in the NHL right now.  Based solely on stats, I am leaning towards the Sharks taking their second win in the season series.