San Jose Sharks-St. Louis Blues Preview: Chris Mason Will Need Positive Results

Jason BesancenezContributor IMarch 12, 2009

The St. Louis Blues are gearing up to face the San Jose Sharks in a game looking to have the feel of a playoff showdown.

The St. Louis Blues (30-28-8) are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are coming off an important 5-2 victory against Dallas, where they worked hard the entire game.

St. Louis will attempt to beat San Jose for the second straight game.  The Blues beat the Sharks 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 27, but the Sharks have owned the Blues in the last 17 games (14-1-2). San Jose is tied for the lead with Detroit in the Western Conference with a 43-12-10 record and 96 points.

San Jose is only 5-4-1 in their last 10 games but are coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota. They have been without starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov for six games due to illness and a lower body injury.

Brian Boucher has been the starter of late.  He has posted a 2-3-1 record with a 3.13 GAA in six games.  Nabokov is questionable for Thursday's game, so the Blues wouldn't shed many tears if they had to play against Boucher.

St. Louis fans will look to see if Chris Mason can hold his own against this recently fragile Sharks team.  Mason is 0-6-1 in his career against San Jose and 0-1 this year, allowing five goals on 38 shots.

David Backes has been on a hot streak with four goals and two assists in three games. He is second on the team with 22 goals and 40 points.

Keith Tkachuk has been successful in his career against San Jose, with 33 goals and 31 assists, so look to see this All-Star forward make an impact.  Tkachuk scored his 20th goal of the season against Dallas on Monday, a feat he has accomplished 15 times in his career.  This year, he has 20 goals and 18 assists. 

Andy Murray and his Blues will look to continue their home dominance (17-12-5), and weary San Jose will try to play with confidence in order to maintain their outstanding record against the Blues.

The Sharks are 31-9-7 against Western Conference opponents and 9-3-4 against Central teams. The Blues are 23-18-7 against Western Conference teams and 8-7-1 against Pacific teams.

Mason will look to the heavens to pull out a small miracle.  Sitting three points out of a playoff spot, Mason and the Blues will seek a positive result.  St. Louis fans would love to see a "Thursday Night Thrashing" of the Sharks!