April 21, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Chris Stewart (25) and San Jose Sharks right wing Tommy Wingels (57) fight during the second period in game 5 of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

NHL Playoffs 2012: Sharks Eliminated In St. Louis

The Sharks were the underdog in their first round matchup with the St. Louis Blues and were unable to advance past the first round in the 2012 NHL playoffs. For more on the Sharks head over to Fear the Fin.

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Sharks Vs. Blues Game 5 Final Score: San Jose's Postseason Comes To An End With 3-1 Loss

For a little while there on Saturday, it looked like the San Jose Sharks might keep their postseason alive for at least one more game. Unfortunately, that's not the way things ended up working out. The St. Louis Blues were able to prove themselves the stronger team as they picked up the 3-1 win. The Blues took the opening-round series in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, four games to one, advancing to the second round and eliminating the Sharks while on home ice.

The Sharks looked sharper than they had in a couple games early on, holding the game scoreless through almost the entirety of the first two periods. Joe Thornton knocked in a thrilling goal at 19:19 of the second period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead and give Bay Area fans a glimmer of hope.

Unfortunately, that feeling of hope was far too short-lived, as the Blues scored at 11:16 on a Jamie Langenbrunner goal to tie the game up.

The Sharks barely had time to catch their breath, as less than a minute later, David Perron netted this goal to put the Blues on top for good.

The Sharks had an opportunity in the final five minutes to get even, as they were able to grab a power play when Andy McDonald put the puck over the glass. Unfortunately, San Jose came up empty on the power play.

In the final two minutes, the Sharks attempted the empty net gambit, but it yielded nothing but the third and final Blues goal.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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Sharks Vs. Blues Game 5: TV Time, Schedule & More

The San Jose Sharks started off their first series in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs with a strong, dominating win, but have looked anything but dominating in the four games that followed. The Sharks are trailing the St. Louis Blues in the best-of-seven series, three games to one. On Saturday, the series moves back to St. Louis and the Sharks will have to win again in enemy territory to avoid being eliminated. Three wins in a row seems like an extremely daunting task and would be an historical comeback, but it is possible.

The puck will drop on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised locally on CSN-California, or you can catch the national broadcast on CNBC. The radio broadcast will air on KFOX.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Predators Advance, Penguins Stay Alive

Friday night was a relatively quiet night for the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, but still had a couple of huge developments. One team staved off elimination for at least one more game, while another became the first postseason combatant to advance.

In the first game of the evening, the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers. The Pens had won on Wednesday night to avoid being swept and on Friday night won their second straight, by a final score of 3-2. Pittsburgh still trails in the series, three games to two, but now at least have a realistic fighting chance. Jordan Staal netted his sixth goal of the postseason, but the true star of the game was Marc-Andre Fleury, who saved 24 of 26 Philadelphia shots on goal.

In the second game on the slate, the Nashville Predators hosted the Detroit Red Wings, who entered the game down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Ultimately, the Predators proved to be the better team, clinching the series on home ice and advancing by a final score of 2-1. David Legwand hit the eventual winner to break a 1-1 tie just 13 seconds into the third period.

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Sharks Vs. Blues: Teams Down 3-1 Lose 91 Percent Of The Time

The San Jose Sharks are one game away from elimination, having lost three straight to the St. Louis Blues after taking game one of the playoff series. To make things worse, the Sharks lost both games at the HP Pavilion and are now heading back to hostile territory. It was a hard-fought game, in which the Sharks looked supercharged for its majority, unlike, say, game two, but they still came up short in a 2-1 loss.

So where do they go from here? Not anywhere in particular, really. What's most prohibitive in regards to having optimism is the fact that the Sharks have made all the changes necessary. In fact, CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto puts it best:

But having changed all four of his lines, having tweaked the penalty kill, having gotten snippy at Wednesday's practice, and in general having emptied out the coach's traditional bag of tricks, he and the Sharks came up with deuces and treys again. They are now left with only platitudes to toss into the air in hopes that one will catch a zephyr to God's ears.

It's true, the Sharks have made all the changes. On top of that, Ratto also suggests that 91 percent of teams that end up down 3-1 in a series ultimately lose it. There's not a lot of optimism around these parts right now. Well, save for the fact that the Sharks fought really, really hard.

The team doesn't look lethargic on the ice - they don't look like they're a team that's already lost. That's been an issue in the past, but for the most part, everyone is putting forth an effort. The Sharks weren't dominated in game four of the series, they were edged out. The Blues were undoubtedly the better team, but it wasn't a blowout and that's something to hang your hat on going into game five.

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Sharks Vs. Blues Game 4 Final Score: San Jose On Brink Of Elimination After 2-1 Loss

The San Jose Sharks hosted the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night in hopes of evening up their first-round best-of-seven series before heading back to the Midwest. Unfortunately, it is beginning to become clear that this is not San Jose's year. The team looked punchless on Thursday while suffering a 2-1 loss and is now behind 3-1 in the series.

B.J. Crombeen scored for the Blues at just 7:12 in the first period and would never look back. They added a second goal at 12:00 of the third period on as Andy McDonald found the net on a power play, giving him three goals so far in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Sharks were finally able to break up the shutout as they went with the empty net in the final two minutes and Joe Thornton scored at 18:53, but San Jose was unable to get another decent chance to tie in the final minute.

The Sharks have looked lost on the ice for much of the time since their Game 1 victory. It is appearing as though they will need a miracle to pull off three straight wins and advance.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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NHL Playoffs 2012, Sharks Vs. Blues Game 4: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The San Jose Shark find themselves in a bit of a hole against the St. Louis Blues, but will look to even the series at two apiece Thursday night in San Jose.

St. Louis hasn't won a playoff series since 2001-02 season, and would love to take a 3-1 lead in the series tonight. They took care of business on the road last time out by the score of 4-3, and now the Sharks must defend their home turf if they want any change to stay alive.

No. 2 St. Louis Blues at No. 7 San Jose Sharks- Game 4, Western Conference Quarterfinals | Blues lead, 2-1

Game Time: 7:30 p.m. PT

Location: HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA

National TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN, RDS

Local TV: FS Midwest, CSN California

For more on the St. Louis Blues, visit St. Louis Game Time and for more on the San Jose Sharks, head on over to Fear the Fin. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's NHL news hub.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: San Jose Sharks Staying Confident Against Blues

The San Jose Sharks have held strong against the No. 2 seed Blues up until this point in the quarterfinals. After stealing a road victory in overtime to begin the series, the club has taken back-to-back losses. With another home game coming on Wednesday evening, it is imperative for the Sharks to tie the series up if they hope to eventually advance to the semifinals.

Despite trailing in the series 2-1 and a recent history of dominance by the Blues, the Sharks are staying confident in what has worked well for them throughout the year. Kevin Kurz at CSN Bay Area has the latest report on team morale:

They've now lost six of seven games since the start of the 2011-12 season, but don't tell the San Jose Sharks that they don't match up well against the talented St. Louis Blues.

"If we're thinking that way, we might as well pack it in now. That's a pretty terrible mindset to have in the middle of a series to think it's a bad match up," Ryane Clowe said.

"We're more than confident. We went in there and played a great Game 1. Last night, we scored on the power play and they scored on the power play early, and then we give up a couple more power play goals. That's an area we've got to improve on. We know that."

Is there any doubt the Blues are going to be a very tough out in the playoffs? This team knows how to score in a hurry and has received strong play in goal for most of the season. The Sharks have not given up, though, and a win on Wednesday changes everything in the series. They don't necessarily need to dominate St. Louis for 60 minutes, but being the underdogs they'll need to take any advantage they can get. Maybe they don't end up winning the series, but you can never say the team gave up on themselves.

For more on the Sharks, head over to Fear The Fin.

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Sharks Vs. Blues: Lineup Changes Coming For San Jose In Game 4?

After game one of the playoff series between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, it was the latter who was having the knee-jerk reactions and shuffling lineups that probably didn't need to be shuffled. That is to say, the Blues were set to make some changes as a direct response to a very, very close loss in double overtime.

As it turns out, the Blues decided to scrap the changes and roll with a mostly-unmodified lineup and gameplan going forward. Now, instead of being down, they're leading the series 2-1, with a dominating performance in game three. And now Brian Elliott is in net, too. So that's not good.

Now it looks like the Sharks might be eager to make some changes of their own. As noted by Kevin Kurz of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the Sharks could be changing some things, most notably with their forwards:

That will almost certainly include some tinkering to his forward lines, as well, which we got a little preview of in Game 3. Joe Thornton skated with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe at one point late in the game, while Joe Pavelski was with Marty Havlat and Patrick Marleau.

McLellan said after the game the changes wouldn't necessarily be just shifting his top six around, either. Some of his so-called "bottom six" could also be on the move, as the coach desperately seeks more offense against St. Louis.

In the piece, Ryane Clowe notes that not much is likely to actually change - he says it's "pretty simple hockey" going on in this series. What he says is pretty true, and the Sharks are simply getting beat. This is beyond the point of citing the intermittent "bounce" going the other way - this is the Sharks getting beat by a team that matches up well against them, whether the players want to admit it.

That being said, should the Sharks be making big changes? This writer doesn't think so ... especially to the "bottom six." There's been plenty of scoring opportunities from those lines, the top is where the problems actually are. While the Sharks aren't finishing their great opportunities with the bottom lines, the top lines aren't even starting them.

It's not all bad - the Sharks have another game at the HP Pavilion up next - they just need to capitalize. Making changes isn't all-that necessary ... we'll see if there's as much to this as the Blues' "changes."

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NFL Playoffs 2012: Full Results From Tuesday Night's Postseason Games

Tuesday night was an off night for the San Jose Sharks and their first-round opponents the St. Louis Blues, but there was plenty of Stanley Cup playoff action to go around. Following Tuesday night's slate of three postseason games, some underdogs are beginning to make their presence felt.

In the first game of the night, the Florida Panthers took a two games to one lead over the New Jersey Devils after defeating the Devils on their home ice by a final score of 4-3. The Devils scored all three of their goals in the opening 6:16 of the game. After the third goal the Panthers immediately pulled starting goalie Jose Theodore an inserted Scott Clemmensen. The result was 19 saves and no goals allowed by Clemmensen the rest of the way, as the Panthers countered with two first-period goals of their own and added another pair of goals in the second before holding on for the win.

In Motown, the Nashville Predators won on the road and went up 3-1 in their series, pushing the Detroit Red Wings to the brink of elimination in a surprising 3-1 win. The game remained scoreless heading into the third period. To that point, the Predators had only managed 10 shots on goal, compared to 28 by the Red Wings. The Predators opened the scoring at 1:55 in the third period, but the Red Wings would tie things up 80 seconds later on a power play goal. Nashville would pile on two more goals in the period, making the most of just seven shots on goal in the third period. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was outstanding, saving 40 of 41 Detroit shots.

The final game of the evening was another in which the underdogs made a statement. The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks on the road in overtime by a final score of 3-2. Phoenix now leads that series 2-1. The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead into the third period, but the Coyotes tied things up. Chicago again took the lead at 8:49, but 30 seconds later Phoenix had knotted it up again and held on to force an overtime. Mikkel Boedker netted the winning goal at 13:15 in the first overtime period.

For all news and information regarding the world of professional hockey and the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, please visit SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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Sharks Vs. Blues, Game 3 Final Score: San Jose Takes Rough 4-3 Loss At Home

The San Jose Sharks were hoping that home ice would be kind to them in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. As it turns out, home ice isn't a good remedy for being overmatched. On Monday, for the first time in the best-of-seven first-round series, the matchup looked like the No. 2 seed-vs.-No. 7 seed contest that it actually is. The Sharks lost to the St. Louis Blues by a final score of 4-3, but the game was not as close as that score would indicate. The Blues now take a 2-1 lead in the series.

The Sharks lived and died on the power play in this game. The Bluess struck first, as Patrik Berglund managed a power play goal at 14:31. Just two minutes later, the Sharks answered back with a power play goal of their own, as Brent Burns scored to tie things up, 1-1.

In the second period, the Blues pulled away for good at just 1:01, as Andy McDonald found the net.

The Blues stretched their lead to 3-1 at 10:06, as Jason Arnott scored on this power play goal.

At just 59 seconds into the final period, Alexander Steen put in the backbreaker goal for the Blues on another power play goal.

The Sharks cut the lead to 4-2 on a Colin White goal, but they had already run out of time at that point.

At 19:43, Logan Couture added one final goal as the Sharks went with the empty net and extra attacker, but would get no closer.

The Sharks looked completely lost for most of the game, allowing too many power plays on dumb penalties and generally being outplayed. After the Blues scored their quick go-ahead goal in the second period, the fight appeared to largely go out of the San Jose squad. They will need to dig deep if they hope to even up the series before it heads back to St. Louis.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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Sharks Vs. Blues Score Update: Tied After First, Video Of Both Goals

Through one period of play, the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are tied at one goal apiece. Patrik Berglund lit the lamp first, scoring on a power play in which Antti Niemi essentially gave up the empty net and Douglas Murray failed to track the puck when he clearly had the best chance of clearing it. Below, we've got video of the goal that put the Blues in the driver's seat:

As you can see, Murray followed through with a needless check and it cost the Sharks. But shortly after, Roman Polak went to the box and the Sharks were on a power play. One minute into it, they were looking pretty lost and uncoordinated, but eventually, Joe Thornton flipped the puck to defenseman Brent Burns, who absolutely victimized Brian Elliott to even it up at 1-1.

Naturally, we've got some tasty video of that as well:

Absolutely filthy goal by Burns on that one. At any rate, the Sharks need to pick up the pace heading into the second period, and capitalize on their scoring chances. Of course, against this year's Blues team, that's much easier said than done.

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Sharks Vs. Blues Game 3: TV Time, Schedule & More

More: Sharks Playoff Gameday - The Fuse Has Been Lit

The San Jose Sharks are attempting to pull off an upset against the No. 2 seed St. Louis Blues in the first round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. As the teams head to San Jose on Monday, the best-of-seven series is tied at one game apiece. The Sharks will not be able to clinch the series win on home ice this time around, but they can attempt to get one win closer to the second round.

The puck will drop on Monday at 7:00 p.m. PT. The game will be televised locally on CSN-CA, but you can also catch the national feed on NBCSN (formerly Vs.). The radio broadcast can be heard on KFOX.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Sharks Still In Great Position With Series Tied Heading Back To HP Pavilion

There's really no such thing as a "good loss," silver linings be damned. That holds especially true when it comes to the playoffs of any sport, though at this time we're just talking about the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the San Jose Sharks' loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. What are the positives to take away from a 3-0 shutout that saw Marc-Edouard Vlasic score a goal in his own net trying to clear the puck after a botched Antti Niemi save?

What positive do you take from a game that saw the Sharks embarrassed in the final period and in the final seconds when they picked a couple fights and promptly lost them all? What is the best positive you can take from an outing like that?

You're going home with the series tied and the possibility of returning to St. Louis with a 3-1 series advantage. That's the positive to take from this.

Marty Havlat's heroics in overtime in game one gave the Sharks, a serious underdog at this point (looks as weird in print as it does out loud, no?), a huge lift in this uphill battle. After being outscored by the Blues 11-3 in the regular season, it was a big statement to go out and pick up a win. The fact that they lost in game two isn't the end of the world, because the Sharks will head to the HP Pavilion with the series tied and the knowledge that they can beat the Blues.

They'll just need to, you know, not score in their own goal. That would be a great starting point. Also, it wouldn't hurt to keep Joe Pavelski from fighting and Patrick Marleau from throwing things that are not entirely unlike punches. Game three is on Monday.

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Sharks Vs. Blues, Game 3 Final Score: St. Louis Evens Series With 3-0 Win

On Saturday afternoon, the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues played the second game in their best-of-seven series in the opening round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. The Sharks held a 1-0 lead in the series heading into the game, but an ignominious beginning gave way to an unceremonious end and the Blues evened the series by taking Saturday's game, 3-0.

In the first period, a Vladimir Sobotka shot slipped under the legs of Antti Niemi. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was on the scene and attempted to clear, but inadvertently tipped the puck in for an own goal at 1:31 and a 2-0 Blues lead. Sobotka was credited with an unassisted goal.

In the second period, the intensity ramped up significantly as hard hits were exchanged by both sides and more than a couple of scuffles broke out, one of which erupted into a significant fight. At 13:49, David Backes slipped another goal past Niemi to take a 2-0 lead.

The Sharks had a power play opportunity in the final 10 minutes of regulation but came up empty. The final three minutes of play featured a St. Louis power play that turned into another fight that resulted in a 5 on 3 for the Blues and one last goal to seal the win for the home team. T.J. Oshie got credit for the final goal at 19:35. After play ended, there were a slew of fights on the ice. Emotions will continue to run high as the series heads back to San Jose for game three.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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Sharks Vs. Blues, Game 2 Score Update: St. Louis Goes Up 2-0 After 2nd Period

Saturday's game between the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues is two-thirds of the way through regulation. Entering the second intermission, the Sharks trail 2-0 and the Blues look to be on the verge of evening the series at one game apiece.

Through much of the second period, it appeared as though the news would center around the brutal playexhibited by both teams. St. Louis starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak was knocked out of the game after a collision with his teammate, Barret Jackman, which you can see below.

There were other injury delays following harsh hits and a large fight, but the Blues finally found the net again at 13:49, as David Backes put one past Antti Niemi to extend the St. Louis lead to 2-0.

St. Louis is going on the attack more often than is San Jose. Through the first two periods, the Blues have taken 26 shots on goal, compared to just 20 from San Jose. The Sharks will need to straighten things out in a hurry in the third period.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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Sharks Vs. Blues, Game 2 Score Update: San Jose Trails 1-0 After 1st Period

The San Jose Sharks are playing against the hometown St. Louis Blues in the second game of their opening-round 2012 NHL playoff series. Through the first period of play, the Sharks are trailing 1-0 ... but the Blues goal was not the direct result of the Blues offense.

At 1:31 of the first period, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was attempting to clear a puck that got through the legs of Sharks goalkeeper Antti Niemi, but ended up knocking it into the net, scoring a Sharks own goal ... one that was credited to Blues skater Vladimir Sobotka (unassisted).

There was no further scoring for the rest of the period, but the Sharks will need to recover from that unfortunate gaffe.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Sharks Put Pressure On Blues Following Overtime Victory

The St. Louis Blues have a history of big letdowns in the NHL Playoffs. While hardly any of the current players were among those in the 1990s and early 2000s that continually broke the hearts of their fans, you can bet the fans become a bit restless when their team drops the first game of a playoff series.

The San Jose Sharks played excellent hockey on Thursday night, and with another game just hours away, their upset in game one is already being felt in St. Louis by the coaching staff.

CSN Bay Area has the latest update on the situation:

The big one was making third-line wing Chris Stewart a healthy scratch for the first time all year in exchange for Matt D'Agostini, a response not only to Stewart's intermittent work in Game 1 but over the course of an up-and-down year. Stewart was clearly surprised by the move, referring at one point to "it's hard to do a lot in a few minutes of playing time," but Hitchcock was not sparing in his analysis of the Stewart move.

"We need more from him," Hitchcock said. "We need more from that position, more tenacity, more determination, more second and third effort from that position."

That is a big move for the Blues, especially after they performed so well in the regular season. Given their struggles in game one, you can bet more changes could be on the way if the Sharks win again on Saturday. As for the other changes:

The other changes were more tactical - B.J. Crombeen for Ryan Reaves on fourth-line wing, a bit of a surprise, and Carlo Colaiacovo for Kent Huskins as Alex Pietrangelo's partner on the second defense pairing. The Blues struggled to make full sense of San Jose's third-line-fourth-line exchanges, and though Reaves was effective as a disruptor, Crombeen can do many of the same things and more still. Both he and D'Agostini will flank Scott Nichol on the Blues' fourth line, while Jamie Langenbrunner gets bumped to the third line with Jason Arnott and Vladimir Sobotka.

Game two of the series is schedule for 7:30 ET, which is 4:30 in the Bay Area.

For more on the Sharks and their quest for the Stanley Cup, head over to Fear The Fin.

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NHL Playoffs, Sharks vs. Blues Game 2: Start Time, TV Schedule And More

The San Jose Sharks stole a victory away from the Blues on Thursday night, and did so in front of a raucous crowd in St. Louis. You can bet the Sharks have all the momentum on their side following the overtime victory and they will want to carry it with them back to the comforts of home. On Saturday evening, San Jose will have a chance to go up 2-0 in the series, something teams seldom give back up in the NHL Playoffs.

The Sharks and Blues will meet again on Saturday evening. Here are all the details you will need to get you ready for the matchup:

Start Time: The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m. ET, which is 4:30 p.m. in the San Jose area. That's a 6:30 start for those of you in St. Louis.

TV Schedule: Fans can find the game telecast live on CNBC. That's channel 355 for DirecTV users, 208 for DISH. Those with cable should check local listings.

Team Sites: Sharks fans should check out Fear The Fin. Blues fans can go to St. Louis Game Time.

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Sharks Vs. Blues: Game 2 Is Where 'Experience' Will Actually Play A Role

It wasn't necessarily experience that put the San Jose Sharks past the St. Louis Blues in game one of their Stanley Cup Playoff series. No, it was simply Marty Havlat and the fact that he's a gamer that gave the Sharks the win in the end, which isn't to say that the rest of the double overtime game wasn't fantastic by the whole team, but we're trying to get away from the "experience" label.

Well, we're trying to get away from said label in regards to game one. That was just a drag-out game that could have went either way in the end, and now the Sharks have a 1-0 lead in the series without having played at the HP Pavilion yet, and that's huge for them. Playing ahead is much different than playing from behind, in an individual game and in a series altogether.

Which is where experience might actually be a tangible factor. While the Sharks are desperate to finally win a Stanley Cup, they're not as desperate to just break through and get that win. The Blues haven't won playoff games in a long, long time. There's already been talk about some changes big and small on both sides, but you can bet the bigger changes will be from the Blues.

They need to win game two, while the Sharks can go back to HP Pavilion, at worst, tied. Experience will play a role this time around, from everybody on the ice for San Jose to the Todd McLellan and the coaching staff. That doesn't necessarily mean the game will be an easy win for the Sharks - it'll probably be just as close - but St. Louis is in on of those positions where you just expect them to make a mistake.

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Sharks vs. Blues: Antti Niemi Comes Up Big Under The Bright Lights

Most professional athletes, whether it be with or without cause, are judged by their performances in the playoffs. Not only are the lights brightest in an elimination setting, but that's also when fans from all over the country -- and not just a local following of supporters -- are watching. For young Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, he has already come up big time and again for San Jose.

The folks over at CSN Bay Area have the latest update:

For his career, Niemi is 8-2 in playoff overtime games, including wins in six of his last seven. That includes Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on June 9, 2010, when he helped clinch the championship for Chicago over Philadelphia.

Niemi was 4-1 in overtime with the Sharks during their run to the Western Conference Final last season, with the only loss coming on Kevin Bieksa's freak goal in Vancouver on May 24.

"Obviously, it feels better winning in the overtime. It's a tough spot; you don't want to make mistakes. It's hard, but I've been able to make saves," he said. "But, you don't want to worry about it too much or think about it too much. You've got to be ready and alert."

Niemi is going to have to continue his stellar play if the Sharks hope to pull the upset over the Blues, but given his track record and effort in Game One of the series, you have to feel good about San Jose's chances moving forward.

The second game of the Western Conference quarterfinals is set for Saturday evening from St. Louis.

For more on the Sharks, check out Fear The Fin.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Full Results From Friday Night's Postseason Games

The 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs continued on Friday night. While the San Jose Sharks were busy basking in the glow of their upset win over the St. Louis Blues and enjoying an off day, there was a full slate of exciting hockey, including a couple more games where the underdogs emerged victorious.

The evening's first game pitted the New Jersey Devils against the hometown Florida Panthers. The Panthers were hoping to make a statement and prove they belonged in the postseason, but the Devils netted three first-period goals that proved to be the difference. Although the Panthers scored a pair of goals in the second period, they would get no closer and suffered the 3-2 loss to drop the series opener.

In the next game, the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers in a hectic shootout. The Flyers ultimately shocked the Penguins and prevailed by a final score of 8-5. Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux both racked up hat tricks for the Flyers in the game as Philadelphia now leads the series 2-0.

The game between the Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings was significantly more sedate. The Red Wings picked up the 3-2 win to even up the series at one win apiece. Detroit took just 17 shots on goal but made them count.

In the final game of the night, the Los Angeles Kings once again shocked the No. 1 seed Vancouver Canucks by a final score of 4-2. Dustin Brown racked up a hat trick and became the first Kings player in history to score two shorthanded goals in a playoff game. Tempers boiled over in this one as the Canucks are visibly frustrated the Kings keep getting the best of them.

For all news and information regarding the world of professional hockey and the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, please visit SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Full Results From Day 2 Of The Postseason

The second day of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday was a stacked card of action, featuring three of the four games going to overtime as the first round competition was furious and exceeded all expectations in terms of drama and excitement.

You all know what happened in the game between the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues, of course. Martin Havlat scored two goals en route to a 3-2 double-overtime Sharks victory and the 1-0 lead in the series. That story's old news by now. Let's move on to the other results.

In the first game on the docket and the only straightforward game on Thursday, the New York Rangers went up 1-0 in their opening series with a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. The Sens netted two goals in the final 10:00 of regulation, but the damage had already been done by then. All six goals in this game were scored by different skaters. And although there were plenty of penalties in the game -- including a pair of misconduct penalties in the third period -- none of the goals were scored on a power play.

The next game was the opener between the Boston Bruins and the Wahsington Capitals. Neither team was willing to give an inch and the game went to overtime in a scoreless tie. The Caps took just 17 shots on goal in the game, against 30 by the Bruins, 29 of which were saved by Braden Holtby. At 1:18 of the first overtime period, Chris Kelly finally snuck one past Holtby to give the Bruins the 1-0 OT win.

The final game of the night was the third to require extra periods. The Chicago Blackhawks are the favorites to win their opening series against their host team, the higher-seeded Phoenix Coyotes. The 'Yotes proved they were up to the task on Thursday night, however. Phoenix took a 2-1 lead in the second period and held onto that lead until Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks scored the tying goal with just 15 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. At 9:29 of OT, Martin Hanzal found the net to give the Coyotes the 3-2 win and start the series in the win column.

Friday will feature another four games, including the first game in the series between the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers.

For all news and information regarding the world of professional hockey and the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, please visit SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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Sharks Vs. Blues Final Score: Martin Havlat Powers San Jose To 3-2 Double-OT Win

The St. Louis Blues hosted the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night in the first game of the two teams' first-round playoff series. The Sharks needed two overtimes, but pulled off the 3-2 win to go up 1-0 in the series and take the first step on the road to a massive upset.

The game was scoreless for over 25 minutes after the puck dropped. San Jose drew first blood, scoring at 6:02 in the second period on a Martin Havlat power play goal and carried the 1-0 lead into the second intermission. Their lead was short-lived, however, as Patrik Berglund tied the game up within the opening minute of the third period. Some stupid calls went against the Sharks and Berglund was able to get a power play goal past Antti Niemi at 7:28 of the period.

It appeared as though the Sharks were headed for the somewhat-inevitable 0-1 hole to start the series when Andrew Desjardins scored to tie it up 2-2, with assists by Tommy Wingels and Dan Boyle. You can see the crucial goal below.

San Jose was able to hang on long enough to send the game to overtime. The overtime period seemed like all Blues for the duration. St. Louis was constantly attacking the net and taking a multitude of shots, with desperation saves by Niemi. The few times the Sharks were able to go on the offensive, it seemed as though the puck was instantly back on the San Jose side of the blue lines. The Sharks had an amazing opportunity in the final minute, as the puck went behind Jaroslav Halak and he had no idea where it was. He completely turned his back to the open ice, but the Blues were able to get to the puck first and clear it. After 20 minutes, the game remained 2-2 and headed to a second overtime.

The second overtime began with a flurry of action when suddenly, inexplicably, Havlat sent a long shot past a blues defender and past Halak right into the back of the net at 3:34 for his second goal of the game to seal the win. Check out the amazing winning goal below.

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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2012 NHL Playoffs, Sharks Vs. Blues: San Jose Leads 1-0, Antti Niemi Dominating

The San Jose Sharks have played some great hockey through two periods, leading the St. Louis Blues by a score of 1-0. After a scoreless first period of play, Martin Havlat lit the lamp on a power play with 6:02 remaining. The first period was pretty stagnant due to sloppy play and seemingly endless offsides calls, but the second period really took off. A raucous crowd is on hand in St. Louis, making it an incredible atmosphere at the Scottrade Center.

The Blues had plenty of scoring chances in the closing minutes of the second period, but incredible play from goalie Antti Niemi. The young goaltender blocked all 20 of the shots he faced, including numerous glove saves that looked like sure goals for the opposition.

One thing to keep an eye on for the third period:

The third period should be a wild one. Taking the early 1-0 lead in the series is huge in the first round, and you can bet the Sharks would love to do nothing more than steal a game on the road.

The game is being aired live on CNBC this evening.

For more on the Sharks, head over to Fear The Fin.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Sharks, Blues Could Come Down To Intangibles

The San Jose Sharks have an intimidating opponent in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's generally the case once you get to the playoffs because every team there had to earn their way, but it's definitely worth noting, given that the team in question came out of nowhere. At the beginning of the season, if you'd have said that any team was fearing the St. Louis Blues come playoff time, you'd have been laughed at.

But now the Blues are No. 2 seeds in the conference and more than that, boasted a 4-0 record against the Sharks this season. They finished with 109 points, with a 49-22-11 record, significantly better than the Sharks at 96 points with a 43-29-10 record. We'll have some in-depth previews going forward, but first, let's take a look at what Brodie Brazil had to say over at CSN Bay Area, where he gives "key themes" to the game.

First, he brings up the issue of experience vs. inexperience, and it's possibly the most notable:

Experience vs. Inexperience: This has already been pinpointed in initial comments by both respective head coaches. Todd McLellan's franchise has qualified for the playoffs eight straight years now, and is the only NHL team to reach the conference finals each of the last two seasons.

Meanwhile, Ken Hitchcock's franchise hasn't won a playoff series since 2002, and hasn't won a playoff game since April of 2004. The "recent experience" aspect could be a factor in terms of players knowing what to expect in a magnified compete level, and also in a 7-game series situation, where the ability to mentally overcome odds is key.

This is incredibly significant, no matter how good you are in the regular season. It's true that the Sharks lack that extra swagger in that regard since they haven't, you know, won the cup during those eight-straight appearances. Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and all of those guys are battle tested, even if they have their ups and downs.

On top of that, Antti Niemi, despite being young, falls under the category of "experienced," given that he led the Chicago Blackhawks to a Cup victory prior to joining the Sharks when Chicago was going through some cap troubles. Niemi had a great series (though he was helped along by Chicago's excellent defense) and wasn't too shabby for the Sharks in the playoffs last season, either.

Compromising the St. Louis system: It's clear the Blues earned the second seed in the Western Conference with their defensive play. Not only slowing teams through the neutral zone, but also in front of their own blue paint. When the puck gets low in their d-zone, forwards collapse and help out the goaltender in "protecting the house". If the Sharks and Todd McLellan can successfuly strategize and execute a plan to counter this system, they will win the series. St. Louis does not show the goal scoring potential to keep up with San Jose -- should this series become an offensive shootout.

That's all well and good, but I actually disagree to an extent - the last bit. St. Louis does have the goal scoring potential to keep up with San Jose, given the spotty defense of the Sharks and the on-again, off-again play from Niemi. In fact, this ties in well with the above statement - if the experience does end up playing a factor, then Brazil's statement will hold true, to an extent.

The extent being that if Niemi is on his 'A'-game, then yes, the Blues don't really have that extra offensive pop to put the puck in net. But if he's not, the Blues probably have a solid chance of keeping up with the Sharks offensively. Either way, it's probably not going to be an offensively-charged game.

There's two other themes (even if they're a couple days old) and should make for some solid reading heading into Thursday's matchup.

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Sharks Vs. Blues, 2012 NHL Playoffs: Game Time, TV Schedule And More For Game 1

The San Jose Sharks are set to embark on what they are hoping to be a elongated playoff run in 2012, but first must take care of business against the favored St. Louis Blues, starting on Thursday night at the Scottrade Center.

San Jose will certainly have their work cut out for them against the Blues, a very tight defensive team in their own right. The Sharks lost both of their regular season meetings with St. Louis, struggling to score goals in both games. San Jose will need to keep the traffic going around the front of St. Louis' net with Jaroslav Halak tending goal instead of Brian Elliot due to injury.

Date: Thursday April 12, 2012

Location: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO

Puck Drop: 4:30 p.m. PT

TV Coverage: CSN California, CNBC

For more news and notes on the Sharks playoff run, make your way over to Fear the Fin. For the Blues side of things, check out St. Louis Game Time.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Full Results From Day 1 Of The Postseason

The first day of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs is in the books and has featured at least one big upset. Although the San Jose Sharks do not kick off their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues until Thursday night, we can still take a look at the action that went down on Wednesday.

In the first of the three games played on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the Pittsburgh Penguins by defeating them 4-3 in overtime to go take the opening game in the series. The Penguins scored three goals in the first period and looked to be on their way to a dominating win before being completely shut down for the remainder of the game, as Ilya Bryzgalov saved 25 of 28 shots on goal. Danny Briere scored two goals for the Flyers.

Next up was the Detroit Red Wings visiting the Nashville Predators. The Predators made a strong opening statement toward their detractors as they picked up a 3-2 victory. Goaltender Pekka Rinne was outstanding, saving 35 of 37 shots. The Predators took only 26 shots on goal but made the most of their opportunities, finding the net once in each of the three regulation periods. Gabriel Bourque had two goals for Nashville.

In the biggest upset of the evening, the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Kings defeated the No. 1 seed Vancouver Canucks by a final score of 4-2 at Rogers Arena. The teams matched one another goal for goal in the first two periods before Dustin Penner and Dustin Brown put in the go-ahead and insurance goals, respectively, in the final period. The first two goals for Los Angeles came on power plays and the Kings were uncharacteristically on the attack throughout, taking 39 shots on goal against just 26 by Vancouver.

The Kings victory may give the Sharks just a little bit more hope heading into their opener tomorrow against the Blues.

For all news and information regarding the world of professional hockey and the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, please visit SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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Brian Elliot Injury: Jaroslav Halak Gets Start In Game 1 For St. Louis Blues

The underdog San Jose Sharks may have gotten a bit of a break for their first game against the St. Louis Blues as goaltender Brian Elliot will miss the game with an apparently minor upper body injury, leaving Jaroslav Halak to tend net in their opening match of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reports that Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock made the decision after Elliot left practice on Tuesday, hoping it won't be serious as they will need thier top goalie for the rest of the series.

"It made the decision pretty easy, so we'll start with Jaro and like everything else, hope for the best," Hitchcock said after practice Wednesday.

As for Halak, his playoff experience two seasons ago while with the Montreal Canadiens led some to believe he would be getting the start over Elliot anyway, though Halak was quick to note he doesn't want to live in the past:

I mean, it was a great experience but it happened in the past. Now we're here. We'll see what happens. I'm going to try and keep it simple and play my game."

Hitchcock feels that Elliot could be ready to go as soon as Thursday, but wasn't 100 percent certain. Goaltender Jake Allen was called up from the AHL and practiced with the team on Wednesday just in case.

For more on the Sharks, head over to Fear the Fin. For the Blues side of things, check out St. Louis Game Time.

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Brian Elliott Injury: Blues Goalie Left Practice With Upper Body Pain

The San Jose Sharks are going to need to play at the very top of their game if they hope to pull the big first round upset over the St. Louis Blues. While the No. 7 seeded Sharks will not go down without a fight this week, they will take any advantage they can get over their counterparts. That includes a potential injury to starting goalie Brian Elliot.

According to reports, Elliot, who ranked among the best goaltenders in the league this past season, left practice on Tuesday with an injury he has been dealing with for a week. Here is the latest report from CSN Bay Area:

It's still undetermined whether Brian Elliott or Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Blues when they host the Sharks in Game 1 of their first round series on Thursday, but Todd McLellan doesn't seem overly concerned.

"Their team doesn't play any different. Their goalies are a little bit different size-wise and the ability to play the puck and that type of stuff," he said. "That's a situation that we're aware of, that they have the two, and they're capable of playing two."

It will be interesting to see how much Elliot is able to practice on Wednesday leading up to Game 1, but you can bet Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock will not rest easily tonight with the uncertain future of his goalie. The injury is not believed to be all that serious, but you can imagine how an upper body injury could be very tough on a goalie.

The Sharks will likely prepare for both goalies during practice on Wednesday, but you can bet Elliot will do everything in his power to get ready for the first round. It'd be tough to keep a player of his caliber out of such an important opening game.

For more on the Sharks, check out Fear The Fin.

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NHL Playoffs 2012: San Jose's Torrey Mitchell And Others Healthy For Thursday

The San Jose Sharks begin their quest for a Stanley Cup on Thursday.

Thankfully, for Sharks fans, they will get a completely healthy lineup in its first round game against the St. Louis Blues.

According to Kevin Kurz from Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Torrey Mitchell, Ryan Clowe and Brent Burnes will all be ready to play come Thursday.

When asked the Sharks will be fully healthy for Thursday's Game 1, head coach Todd McLellan said: "That's what I'm told, and that's what I'll believe."

Michal Handzus replaced Mitchell in the Sharks' lineup in the team's 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Mitchell's injury was unknown and labeled as an "undisclosed injury" by the team after he suffered it in a game against the Kings last Thursday.

Neither Burns or Clowe skated in Monday's practice. According to McLellan, the two were given "maintenance days" to stay healthy.

For more on the Sharks, make your way over to Fear the Fin. For the Blues side of the street, make your way over to St. Louis Game Time.

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NHL Playoff Odds 2012: Sharks Will Be Big Underdogs In The First Round

The 2012 NHL Playoffs will get underway this week, with the San Jose Sharks taking on the No. 2 seed St. Louis Blues. The Sharks struggled mightily in the second half of the regular season and needed a big winning streak in the home stretch to make it into the playoffs. Those struggles contribute to the huge underdog odds that the San Jose team has been saddled with before the puck drops on the NHL postseason.

According to our friends over at OddsShark, the only team in the postseason with a worse chance to win the Western Conference are the Pacific Division Champions the Phoenix Coyotes. The Sharks are at +1,200 to win the conference, while their first-round opponents the Blues are the favorites to head to the Stanley Cup finals, at +250.

Here are the first-round betting trends and the full odds to win the Western Conference, courtesy of OddsShark:

First-Round Western Playoff Matchups & Betting Trends:

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Kings
The Canucks went 2-2 against the Kings this season.
The OVER/UNDER went 0-1-3 in those four contests.

No. 2 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 7 San Jose Sharks
The Blues went 4-0 against the Sharks this season.
The OVER/UNDER went 1-3 in those four contests.

No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks
The Coyotes went 3-1 against the Blackhawks this season.
The OVER/UNDER went 2-2 in those four contests.

No. 4 Nashville Predators vs. No. 5 Detroit Red Wings
The Predators went 3-3 against the Red Wings this season.
The OVER/UNDER went 1-4-1 in those six contests.

Odds to Win NHL Western Conference at TopBet:

St Louis Blues +250
Vancouver Canucks +300
Chicago Blackhawks +600
Detroit Red Wings +700
Nashville Predators +750
Los Angeles Kings +1,000
San Jose Sharks +1,200
Phoenix Coyotes +1,500

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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NHL Playoff Schedule 2012: Sharks First Round WIll Air On Comcast SportsNet

More: Sharks Tangle with Blues in First Round

On Sunday, the full schedule was announced for the 2012 NHL postseason. The San Jose Sharks are the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and as such, will be playing the No. 2 seed in the conference, the St. Louis Blues.

All seven games -- should the series go the distance -- will air on CSN California, with Sharks pregame shows starting on the channel a half-hour before the puck is schedule to drop for each game, according to Kevin Kurz of CSN.

This means that for at least the first round of the playoffs, Bay Area fans will be able to watch the same Sharks broadcasts we're used to and will get to hear Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda calling the plays, as per usual.

And here's that complete schedule of the first round once again, just in case you missed it.

Game 1
Thursday, April 12: Sharks @ Blues, 4:30 p.m. PST

Game 2
Saturday, April 14: Sharks @ Blues, 4:30 p.m. PST

Game 3
Monday, April 16: Blues @ Sharks, 7:00 p.m. PST

Game 4
Thursday, April 19: Blues @ Sharks, 7:30 p.m. PST

Game 5 (if necessary)
Saturday, April 21: Sharks @ Blues, 4:30 p.m. PST

Game 6 (if necessary)
Monday, April 23: Blues @ Sharks, TBD

Game 7 (if necessary)
Wednesday, April 25: Sharks @ Blues, TBD

For all news and information regarding the San Jose Sharks, please visit Fear the Fin. For updates and perspective on the St. Louis Blues, head on over to St. Louis Game Time. For complete coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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NHL Playoffs Schedule And Bracket 2012: Game Times, TV Coverage For Sharks Vs. Blues Series

The Sharks find themselves the underdog in their first round matchup with the St. Louis Blues, looking to make another deep playoff run in 2012. For more on the Sharks head over to Fear the Fin.

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