The San Jose Sharks came into the 2011-12 season as one of the five favourites to win the Stanley Cup. The St. Louis Blues came in as a team expected to break its two-year playoff absence, only to likely get knocked out in the first round.
As it turns out, they did a role reversal.
The Sharks were playing their 81st game before they even locked up a playoff spot. Two days later, they were eliminated from a chance to repeat for a fifth time as Pacific Division champs, even though the point total needed was the second lowest of any division in the NHL. They locked up the seventh seed in the last game of the NHL season.
On the other hand, the Blues started slow and fired coach Davis Payne a month into the season. From the time Ken Hitchcock took over until the end of March, St. Louis was the best team in the league.
During that time, they not only secured a playoff spot, but the title of one of the NHL's two best divisions, claiming a top-two seed. Only an April slide kept them from capturing the Presidents' Trophy, something they were not eliminated from until only a couple hours remained in the NHL season.
Sharks fans eager for different results in May are looking for reasons for optimism. In this article, I will explore the myth or reality of the top 10 assumptions going into the first-round matchup, starting with the two that appear to work against the Sharks...