National Hockey League postseason quick hits: Western Conference Final

This was never supposed to happen.

San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski, left, celebrates with Joe Thornton (19) and another teammate after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators during the first period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference se... "But we know the people of St. Louis are loving it along with us".

Couture scored his seventh goal of the playoffs and fifth of the series just 36 seconds into the second period to give the hosts a 3-0 lead they would nurse throughout the middle period.

The Blues, after a 25-year playoff streak ended in 2003, entered an era of relative non-competitiveness until 2012.

Whether the Sharks win that series or not, they believe they've answered questions on if this team has the right type of resolve to play winning playoff hockey.

And it's going to be absolutely fantastic.

The Orange and Black have picked at 18th overall just once in franchise history - 1970, when they selected Bill Clement.

The Blues have home-ice advantage, but the Sharks were better on the road than at home this season. They've refused to completely condemn the house they've spent years building, but have consistently stripped it down to its foundation and made improvements in what sometimes seemed to be a futile and misguided attempt to salvage something that wasn't worth salvaging at all.

Joe Pavelski took a feed from Patrick Marleau in front of the Nashville net and fired a shot over Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne to make the game 1-0 at the 9:02 mark. Brian Elliott was the Blues' most important player. The Blues and Sharks have met four times in the postseason, only in the first round, and each team has won twice.

Yet, here we are. When the league expanded from the Original Six to 12 teams in 1967-68, all six of the expansion teams were strangely placed in the West Division, hence guaranteeing one of them a spot in the Stanley Cup round.

San Jose and St. Louis earned their berths into the Western Conference Final in similar fashion.

In the 1st round home teams went 21-26.

Special Teams Didn't Show Up - In what was a determining factor for the Preds in this series both sides of special teams were bad again.

For the record, the Sharks won by a final score of 5-0.

They're playoff battle-tested and one step away from breaking the "can't get it done in the playoffs" catcalls for good. "He doesn't make many mistakes". They don't like playing very physical either.

Before a dominating finish against Dallas, the only team that finished ahead of them in the Western Conference during the regular season, the Blues started this postseason by beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in another seven-game series.

Sharks Had More Jump - And this was a huge understatement.

But the Blues aren't just heavy - they're skilled, too. "It's a big game, our guys will be excited". The All-Star defensemen were on the ice for all five goals in an ugly loss to San Jose.

Leading the way on offense for the team is sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, who has a 13 points. They hadn't advanced past the first round of the playoffs the previous three seasons after getting to the second round in Hitchcock's first season in 2011-12.

These were supposed to be the Games 7 that were promised.

The Sharks have gotten unexpected success from goalie Martin Jones.

But as is the case with young/journeyman goalies in deep in the playoffs, those accolades are subject to immediate and series-altering change. The puck dropped in SAP Center a little after 6 p.m. Pacific Time and I sat in my living room in Southern California absolutely dreading the next 60 minutes of playoff hockey. The one thing that's guaranteed in this series is someone will finally be right.

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