Blues need to avoid becoming the new Sharks

With a commanding 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Friday, the St. Louis Blues punched their ticket to the postseason for the fifth straight season.

The win also gives the team a share of top spot in the Western Conference alongside division rivals, the Dallas Stars, while priming the club for what could potentially be their third division title in five years.

The Blues have won nine of their last 11 games and look to be gaining momentum as a playoff season approaches. The team has exemplified regular-season dominance over the last handful of years, but have seemingly choked once the season's most meaningful hockey arrives.

The team has averaged just under 108 points a season since 2012, but have failed to make it past the second round, while being ousted three times in the conference quarterfinals.

The Blues are on thin ice, and look to be replicating Western Conference allies San Jose Sharks for not a great reason.

Between 2004 and 2014, the Sharks enjoyed a plethora of dominating regular seasons. The club finished with the top record in the Pacific Division five times, but don't have a single Stanley Cup to show for it.

The Sharks had slightly better success in the postseason, reaching the conference finals on three occasions and making it past the first round in seven of the 10 seasons, but once again, have nothing but a slightly shorter golf season to their credit.

The continued model of "good but not good enough" finally hit its course last season, seeing the Sharks miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.

As for the Blues, the team was booted from the playoffs last season by the Minnesota Wild after tying the Anaheim Ducks for the best record in the West.

The loss left the team fragile and management's confidence appearing to waver, as reports came out that the team made a run at signing then-free agent head coach Mike Babcock, even with Ken Hitchcock at their disposal.

The team ultimately failed to acquire the $50-million man, signing Hitchcock to a one-year deal and making it clear that he was on the hot seat.

Further roster questions also loom, and will likely be dependent on postseason performance. Captain David Backes has seen production decline, while the last couple trade deadlines have seen eyes pointed toward Kevin Shattenkirk.

As both clubs stand, the Blues have better positioned themselves for future success with a talented and young nucleus of players.

Player Age  Stats
Vladimir Tarasenko 24 34 G/ 64 PTS
Jaden Schwartz 23 7G/ 21 PTS
Robby Fabbri 20 18 G/ 37 PTS
Alex Pietrangelo 26 5 G/ 29 PTS
Jake Allen 25 .917 SV%/ 2.42 GAA

While successful this season, the Sharks' core is getting older, with their best years largely behind them.

The Blues have been among the league's most winningest franchises over the last handful of seasons, but time is slipping. If the Sharks are any indication, the Blues need to start capitalizing on their regular season successes or risk walking away with nothing.

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Super Structure: Stamkos’ perfect positioning leads to freebie goal

The Tampa Bay Lightning are averaging 3.3 goals in winning 13 of their last 18 games, including 13 goals in their last two outings. Given the ease at which they managed their third tally against the New York Islanders on Friday evening, it's no surprise they're finding the back of the net with such regularity.

Steven Stamkos was the goal-scorer on the play, and while the puck spent only a fraction of a second on his stick, his instincts as a finisher played a big part in making the sequence a success.

Famous for his one-timer from the off-wing, Stamkos (91) readies himself for a point shot as the play begins, with the puck working its way back to Nikita Kucherov just inside the blue line.

Rather than settle for a shot from distance, Kucherov (86) comes down off the point, sucking in a pair of Islander defenders and freeing up Jason Garrison for a point shot from the right wall. While this is going on, Stamkos sneaks down toward the goal mouth.

While Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss is able to stop Garrison's one-timer, the rebound falls right to Stamkos, who's positioned himself perfectly to take advantage of the gimme and hammer home a freebie.

Another look, showing just how little resistance Stamkos was met with when he fired the puck.

The two-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner made no mistake from there.

For Stamkos, the goal is his 35th of the season, and if he continues to display the kind of goal-scorer's instincts he did on this play, there will be more "Rocket" Richard trophies in his future.

(Images courtesy: NHL)

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Justin Bieber dons Oilers jersey at concert

Looks like the Edmonton Oilers may have gained a fan.

Justin Bieber took the stage in Las Vegas for a concert wearing an Oilers jersey Friday night.

The jersey appears to have been a gift from Oilers great Wayne Gretzky, who snapped a picture with Bieber and the signed jersey.

But it's pretty clear who the Great One in the picture really is.

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VIDEO: Avalanche fan’s lip sync of Adele is too good

"Lip Sync Battle" may have found its newest contestant.

The Colorado Avalanche released miraculous video of a fan who clearly enjoyed the Pepsi Center's playlist ... a lot.

The fan belted Adele's "Hello" and it's simply fantastic.

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NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2016

Game recaps, injury updates, bidding farewell to Edmonton’s Rexall Place and more in today’s collection of notable NHL headlines.  NHL Playoff Race. STLTODAY.COM: Brian Elliott picked up his third straight shutout backstopping the St. Louis Blues to a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, clinching their fifth consecutive playoff berth. TAMPA TRIBUNE: The Tampa Bay […]

Blues’ Edmundson ‘blacked out’ after scoring 1st NHL goal

Joel Edmundson's got a puck for life.

The St. Louis Blues' rookie defenseman scored his first NHL goal Friday against the Vancouver Canucks. And he may not remember it.

"I blacked out after I scored," he said.

Here's the goal:


It took 60 games, but it was undoubtedly worth the wait. And it came in a game in which the Blues clinched a playoff berth. Not a bad Friday night.

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Remember, we are all Canucks!