What the Sharks Can Learn From Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues

SAN JOSE -- Sure, it probably stings for many Sharks fans to see the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup. After all, it wasn't even a month ago the Blues defeated the Sharks in six games and cut Team Teal's run at the big trophy short. 

Despite all that, there are some things San Jose can take away from watching the Western Conference champions defeat the Boston Bruins. (And no, it doesn't have anything to do with getting away with hitting other players in the head.)

For starters, the Blues defensive effort could stay relentless for a full 60 minutes. The Sharks' defense had the ability to make or break their chances of winning during their 20-game playoff run. When working correctly, San Jose took away their opponents' scoring chances by keeping the opposition on the perimeter of the ice. But the Sharks also had a tendency of letting their feet off the gas and let the other team bulldoze through the neutral zone.

With the exception of Games 3 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blues did a fairly consistent job taking the ice away from the Bruins and not letting up. Their effort in Game 7 was particularly strong, and they were able to carry it through until the end of the game. It also didn't hurt that Jordan Binnington basically stood on his head in Game 7 to keep Boston off the scoreboard.

St. Louis also regularly got contributions from different parts of their lineup. There's no denying the Sharks' depth was heavily tested at the end of their playoff run with multiple key players sidelined by injuries. Even so, when the Sharks looked their best when they got contributions from different parts of their lineup, whether it was the Joe Thornton-led third line or the Barclay Goodrow-centered fourth line. At the end of their playoff run, one of head coach Peter DeBoer's post-loss criticisms was that there were "not enough participants" in helping the team get a victory.

This is an area where the Blues excelled throughout the playoffs. When Vladimir Tarasenko and the top line wasn't finding the back of the net, St. Louis got firepower from the Ryan O'Reilly-led second line. When the bottom six couldn't get going against Boston, St. Louis got scoring help from their blueliners.

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These are, of course, areas the Sharks are aiming to improve upon during the offseason. They've already started beefing up their defensive effort with the return of Bob Boughner to the coaching staff, plus they'll hopefully have an extra weapon in Radim Simek ready for next season. As far as scoring depth goes, San Jose has key pieces to build around as they figure out who will be with the team next season -- including Logan Couture, who was still the league leader in playoff goals at the end of the playoffs.

The 2019 Stanley Cup run just concluded, but it's never too early for the Sharks to lay the foundation for next year.  

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