Mondays always suck, but today at least, you can take solace in the fact that there's STILL playoff hockey being played every day. For the next few days anyway. Probably just thru the middle or end of this week. It's OK, no need to panic, even when this round is done there will still be the Stanley Cup Finals on every other day or once every three days. And then, the Long Dark begins...
LAST GAME'S RECAP
OK, now that the depressing reality of another summer without hockey is out of the way, let's get to the depressing reality of last night. For Pittsburgh fans, this is an especially rough Monday as the Pens went up 2-0 on the Tampa Bay Lightning, only to fall 4-3 in OT by the end of the night. Marc-Andre Fleury got the start over Matt Murray after the Pens lost Game 4, but the change didn't seem to affect things much one way or the other. The Flower didn't look bad in his post-concussion return, but snipes and second chances kept the Bolts alive until Tyler Johnson found twine 53 seconds into extra time. Whoever voted for Tampa's kids to come up big in this game, pat yourselves on the back as Nikita Kucherov had a HUGE game to support Johnson's game-winner. Tampa now leads the series 3-2 heading back to Amalie Arena for Game 6.
St. Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks (Game 5), 8:00PM EDT - NBCSN
Time to bring this back to the post title. The Blues were in complete control of Game 4 after coming up WAY short despite solid efforts in Game 2 and Game 3. Game 4 was a Heimlich for the Blues, proving that the team that bested both the Blackhawks and Stars in 7 games each could still show up and dominate for 60 minutes and that the historic choke-artists aren't out of this series yet. On the flip side of the coin, the Sharks absolutely could have used a Heimlich to avoid choking away the start of Game 4. A win could have been the rock solid momentum grip needed for San Jose to run away with the series, but instead the Sharks lost their grip as the series tied up at 2 games each.
Why You Care Enough To Watch: Choke-watch is still a very real thing for both of these squads. No matter how tightly this series gets played, one of these teams isn't going to shake the moniker. At the end of the day, winning is what counts and the team that doesn't win is going to (rightly or wrongly) keep their "Choker" status. Both teams have deserved it at times, and risen above it at times. Will they rise farther or choke harder tonight? With any luck both teams will rise, but there's only one way to find out for yourself...