2 St Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks
What a difference a coach makes. Under Davis Payne, the St Louis Blues began this season with a 5-7-1 record. Not terrible, but certainly below expectation for a young, up and coming team. Payne was fired after a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on November 5, 2011. He was replaced by Ken Hitchcock who guided the Blues to a 44-15-10 record the rest of the way.
Maybe San Jose should have taken note. They too had high expectations coming into this season. Exchanging forwards Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat and sending F Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota for D Brent Burns was supposed to shake things up and add defensive depth. The result was the Sharks not even entering into the playoff picture until March and April. He may have held his job to this point, but coach Todd McLellan is likely on a short leash depending on the outcome of these playoffs.