The NHL playoffs are nearly down to two teams. With the St. Louis Blues taking a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference finals Sunday, we are close to finalising the Stanley Cup field.
The Blues could win the series at home Tuesday. If not, the two teams will return to San Jose for a deciding Game 7 on Thursday.
Either the Blues or Sharks will go on to play the Boston Bruins, who finished their four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals last Thursday.
The Bruins will be looking to win their seventh Stanley Cup in franchise history and their first since 2011, while the Blues and Sharks have never won the Cup. St. Louis made the Stanley Cup finals three straight seasons from 1968-70, while San Jose reached it in 2016.
Conference Finals Outlook
Eastern Conference Finals
Game 1: Boston 5, Carolina 2
Game 2: Boston 6, Carolina 2
Game 3: Boston 2, Carolina 1
Game 4: Boston 4, Carolina 0
Western Conference Finals
Game 1: San Jose 6, St. Louis 3
Game 2: St. Louis 4, San Jose 2
Game 3: San Jose 5, St. Louis 4 (OT)
Game 4: St. Louis 2, San Jose 1
Game 5: St. Louis 5, San Jose 0
Game 6: San Jose at St. Louis, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 7: St. Louis at San Jose, Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network (if necessary)
Stanley Cup Odds
Boston Bruins 8-11
St. Louis Blues 21-10
San Jose Sharks 34-5
Odds via Oddschecker
Momentum has completely turned to the Blues' side in the Western Conference finals, and that's going to bode well for them in the final stages of the postseason.
After a heartbreaking Game 3 loss at home, in which San Jose forced overtime in the final two minutes of regulation and won it in the extra period, St. Louis has bounced back. The Blues returned to their home ice for Game 4 and won 2-1. Then, they went to San Jose and notched a dominant 5-0 victory to take the lead for the first time in the series.
St. Louis has been resilient this postseason, and it could be peaking at the right time. With those factors, along with a balanced scoring attack and a strong rookie goaltender (Jordan Binnington), the Blues are going to go on to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
They're also not going to need a Game 7 to reach the Stanley Cup finals. St. Louis' Game 5 win was a statement victory that will carry over into Tuesday's Game 6, in which the Blues will take the series.
"We're very close right now," Blues left wing Pat Maroon said, according to NHL.com's Nick Cotsonika. "I think the guys know that. It's in the back of their heads. But we know that that's a good hockey team over there too, and they're not going to give up."
The Sharks have struggled when falling behind this postseason, which has been the case in each of their last two losses. The Blues scored two first-period goals in Game 4, then took another early lead with a first-period goal in Game 5.
No matter which team wins the Western Conference finals, it will go on to beat the Bruins, who will have been off for more than a week when the Stanley Cup finals begin. Neither the Blues or Sharks have played a series shorter than six games during this postseason, and that has helped both when facing adversity.
While the Blues and Sharks are both strong teams, St. Louis is beginning a roll that will carry on through the rest of the postseason.