San Jose Sharks

Has Erik Karlsson’s lingering groin injury resurfaced?

Leave a comment

It plagued him for most of the second half of the season.

A good chunk of January, a good chunk of February, and the entirety of March, to be exact.

And now Erik Karlsson‘s Game 5 status is up in the air after he appeared to aggravate a lingering groin injury, one Karlsson said had only progressed in the right direction throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs after Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.

“I don’t have anything for you there,” said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer when quizzed on Karlsson’s health following a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues that evened the best-of-seven series 2-2 on Friday.

DeBoer quickly swept that question under the rug.

As did Brent Burns, who just said, “He’s doing good” followed by a “How’re you doing?” when a reporter probed Burns about his teammate.

You may not have noticed it, initially at least.

Normally guys who play 24:33 in a game don’t miss significant stretches. But from the 10:36 mark to 18:05 of the third period, Karlsson didn’t see the ice. With the Sharks trailing 2-1 at the time, you’d expect one of the game’s best offensive defensemen to be on the ice. Instead, Karlsson was grimacing in pain, coming out during commercial breaks to test whatever was ailing him.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Somehow, he played the final 1:55 of the game — nearly two minutes of madness where the Sharks tried, ultimately in vain, to find an equalizer. Karlsson bit down hard on his mouthpiece and bore the pain, but you could see its effects.

PHT’s James O’Brien wrote on Karlsson’s playoffs prior to Friday’s game.

Karlsson limped into the playoffs and said himself that he could barely move in Round 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Still, and as James pointed out in his story, it’s been hard to notice with two goals and 14 assists in 18 postseason games. Karlsson has played big minutes and produced at nearly a point-per-game pace in the playoffs, essentially everything the Sharks envisioned he would do when they brought him in last summer.

What they didn’t want was a nagging injury that force Karlsson to missed 29 games during the regular season and now, perhaps, some at a critical juncture for a team that’s hoping they’ve finally put it all together this year.

Maybe it’s nothing. But those painful faces that Karlsson wore in Game 4 weren’t exactly inspiring confidence in the “maybe it’s nothing” part.

If Karlsson can’t play, it’s only going to mean more minutes for guys like Burns, who is already averaging nearly 29 minutes a night. Karlsson has played an instrumental role in these playoffs for the Sharks.

A loss, even for a game, would be a massive blow in what’s now a best-of-three series.

[MORE: Blues handling adversity like champions]


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blues handling adversity like champions

Getty Images
2 Comments

How many times have we thought the St. Louis Blues were dead in the water?

Was it in Round 1 when, after jetting out to a 2-0 lead against the Winnipeg Jets, they lost two straight as it appeared the Jets finally got their act together?

Was it after Games 4 and 5 in Round 2 where the Dallas Stars took a 3-2 series lead and we figured that was the end of their miraculous run?

Was it after the San Jose Sharks benefitted from a hand pass by Timo Meier that found the stick of Erik Karlsson to end Game 3 in overtime to give the Sharks a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Final?

For a team that sat plumb last in the NHL on the morning of Jan. 3, are we really all that surprised that they’re still alive and kicking?

Perhaps we shouldn’t be.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that a rookie goaltender is now 11-2 following a loss in the regular and postseason combined, throwing up an incredible .936 save percentage when his team needs a win.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be miffed when a team as resilient as the Blues, given all they’ve been through, have outscored opponents 14-9 after a loss in these playoffs.

Embrace the grind, as they say.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

And the Blues have, particularly in Game 4 where they could have imploded after losing in such terrible fashion one-game earlier.

“We just talked about… you’ve got to just move on,” said Blues head coach Craig Berube, saying he went into the room after Game 3 to talk that loss over with the team. “The call, you can’t change it now. It is what it is. I think we talked in terms like that game we had a one-goal lead, we could have closed it out then and we didn’t. We let it go to overtime, and the only difference tonight, we closed it out with a one-goal lead.”

Indeed, the whole overtime crisis of Game 3 could have been averted if the Blues could have held onto a 4-3 third-period lead. They trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in that game but led after a four-goal second period. Only Logan Couture‘s magic 6-on-5 prevented the win in regulation and we all know what happened from there.

Resilience will only take a team so far. It’s an intangible. At the end of the day, that resilience needs to bend but not break and the players have to ultimately get the job done. It broke in Game 3. In Game 4, however, the Blues adjusted.

They didn’t have to play from behind — an Ivan Barbashev goal 35 seconds in solved that issue in short order. Tyler Bozak‘s game-winner was scored later on in the same frame.

The Sharks certainly attacked, finishing the game with 73 shot attempts — more than double that of St. Louis.

But St. Louis held the line.

The final 1:55 of the third period was frantic — madness, as Jordan Binnington put it following the game. A big save from Binnington was followed up by a big block of Alex Steen. Brayden Schenn then did the only thing he could do amidst the onslaught as he iced the puck. With no times outs, the Blues couldn’t get a breather until Joel Edmundson‘s desperate attempt to clear was just short of being an icing call.

The Sharks came back, only to have a shot blocked by Bozak and eventually cleared. Ryan O'Reilly then won a key draw in the neutral zone and Oskar Sundqvist thwarted the final attempt by the Sharks.

“We’ve fought through adversity all year,” Bozak said. “We usually play our best when we have to respond to something.”

Full buy-in from a team that’s done nothing but since Jan. 3. And a 2-2 series stalemate after four games with a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup on the line.

This is simply expected from the Blues at this point.

MORE:
• Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• PHT Conference Finals predictions


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Playoff Buzzer: Big night for Blues’ Binnington, Barbashev and Bozak

1 Comment
  • The St. Louis Blues matched a franchise record for playoff wins in a single postseason.
  • Jordan Binnington was outstanding in net.
  • Ivan Barbashev picks a great time for his first goal of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

St. Louis Blues 2, San Jose Sharks 1 (Series tied 2-2)

The St. Louis Blues’ power play has been a big trouble spot this postseason but is finally starting to show some signs of life. It scored the game-winning goal on Friday night in a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks to even the Western Conference Final at two games apiece. After that goal, which gave the Blues a 2-0 first period lead, everything fell on the play of their defense and starting goalie Jordan Binnington, and all of them were up to the challenge to help them bounce back from Wednesday’s controversial overtime defeat.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues. He has been a little up-and-down throughout these playoffs and that has been especially true in the Western Conference Final series against the Sharks. He has had two tough games, giving up five goals in each, and two outstanding games. Friday was one of the outstanding games as he stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced in the Blues’ huge Game 4 win. It was also a night of milestones for him (more on that in a bit in the factoids).

2. Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues. Barbashev picked a great time to score his first goal of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring just 35 seconds into the first period to help get things started. A fast start is always important, but it was especially true for the Blues in this game after the way Game 3 went for them. Falling down early after that loss would have been a potentially crushing swing, but they were able to get out in front early and never look back.

3. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks. This result wasn’t his fault. Not even close. Jones was actually one of the biggest reasons this game was still reasonably close early on as the Blues dominated the scoring chances early in the game and really carried the play at the start. Bozak’s game-winning goal was a fluky play that went in off of his teammates skate and he mostly played well enough to get the result. He was the tough-luck loser in Game 4. Sometimes it happens.

Highlights of the Night

This is the fast start the St. Louis Blues needed.

Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, and the Blues definitely got some here when Bozak was credited with the power play goal that turned out to be the difference in the game.

One of Binnington’s best saves of the night is this one as he casually snags Melker Karlsson‘s shot out of the air after Karlsson found himself wide open in front of the net.

Factoids

  • Friday’s win is St. Louis’ 10th of the postseason, tying a franchise record for most wins in a single postseason. [NHL PR]
  • Speaking of those 10 wins, Binnington has been in net for all 10 of them and is the first goalie in Blues franchise history to win 10 games in a single postseason. [NHL PR]
  • He is also the 10th rookie goalie to win 10 games in a single postseason. [NHL PR]

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Stanley Cup Final 2019 schedule, TV info

3 Comments

We know the Boston Bruins are going to be hosting Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, and now we know when that game will take place.

We just need to wait and find out which team will be facing them.

The NHL announced the schedule for the 2019 Stanley Cup Final on Friday night and the series will begin on Monday, May 27, in Boston, where the Bruins will play the winner of the Western Conference Final between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks.

If there is a Game 7 necessary, it will take place on Wednesday, June 12, in Boston at 8 p.m. ET.

The Bruins are playing in their first Stanley Cup Final since 2013 and are trying to win it for the first time since 2011.

The Sharks and Blues are hoping to win for the first time ever.

The Sharks most recently reached the Stanley Cup Final during the 2015-16 season (where they lost in six games to the the Pittsburgh Penguins), while the Blues have not reached it since the 1970 season.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Here is the complete schedule for the entire series (All times ET, subject to change).

Game 1: Monday, May 27, 8 p.m.: San Jose/St. Louis at Bruins | NBC
Game 2: Wednesday, May 29, 8 p.m.: San Jose/St. Louis at Bruins | NBCSN
Game 3: Saturday, June 1, 8 p.m.: Bruins at San Jose/St. Louis | NBCSN
Game 4: Monday, June 3, 8 p.m.: Bruins at San Jose/St. Louis | NBC
*Game 5: Thursday, June 6, 8 p.m.: San Jose/St. Louis at Bruins | NBC
*Game 6: Sunday, June 9, 8 p.m.: Bruins at San Jose/St. Louis | NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, June 12, 8 p.m.: San Jose/St. Louis at Bruins | NBC

*If necessary

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Binnington, Blues shut down Sharks to tie Western Conference Final

5 Comments

After a crushing and controversial loss in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final series on Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues desperately need a strong bounce back performance in Game 4 on Friday.

They got it.

Ivan Barbashev scored just 35 seconds into the game to give the Blues an early lead, then a Tyler Bozak power play goal just a few minutes later proved to be the game-winner. After that the Blues mostly shut the San Jose Sharks’ offense down and held off a furious late push for a 2-1 win to even the series at two games apiece as it shifts back to San Jose on Sunday afternoon.

It was a mostly rock-solid defensive performance by the Blues to limit the Sharks’ chances for much of the game, and when they did managed to get one through rookie goalie Jordan Binnington was nearly flawless in net. He looked calm, cool, composed and made some difficult saves look mostly effortless for much of the night.

The only goal he allowed was a Tomas Hertl power play goal with just under 14 minutes to play in regulation.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Following that goal the Sharks started to pour on the pressure a little in the final minutes, but Binnington was up to the challenge of shutting them down.

He finished the night with 29 saves on 30 shots and won his 10th game of the postseason, continuing what has been an outstanding out-of-nowhere rookie performance.

While Binnington was great when he was challenged, the Blues’ penalty kill also deserves a lot of credit for a perfect penalty kill mid-way through the third period.

Just three minutes after Hertl’s goal, Barbashev was sent off for tripping and left the door open for another Sharks comeback. The Blues not only kept their power play off the board, they did not even allow them to get a shot on goal.

Game 5 of Blues-Sharks is Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.