St. Louis Blues 21-22

#476      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

ANAHEIM, Calif. — When Tyler Bozak left practice just a few minutes early on March 15, coach Craig Berube joked that Bozak just wanted to get out of a drill.
If only that were the case. It turns out Bozak suffered a lower-body injury and hasn’t played since. That all changed Sunday at the Honda Center, when Bozak returned to action against the Anaheim Ducks and assisted on Ivan Barbashev's goal in the second period of the Blues' 6-3 victory.
The veteran center had missed the Blues’ last 20 contests. Before Sunday, his most recent game had been March 13 against Winnipeg, a 4-3 Blues loss in overtime.
Throw in seven games missed while on the COVID list, one game missed due to non-COVID illness, and four games as a healthy scratch, and Sunday marked only the 48th game of the season for Bozak, 36. He had three goals and eight assists, and was a team-worst minus-11 entering Sunday.

“He’s been out a long time, so he needs to play down the stretch here,” Berube said.A veteran with Bozak’s savvy could come in handy during the playoffs.
“Experience. Situational play — from faceoff, (defensive)-zone coverage, penalty killing,” Berube said. “Been a good player for us in the past. Smart hockey. Reliable.”
 
#478      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
DENVER — It has been 18 games for Nick Leddy wearing the Blue note since the trade deadline deal brought him to St. Louis from Detroit.
He has fit like a comfortable hockey sweater. The transition has been seamless for the veteran defenseman, which doesn’t surprise coach Craig Berube one bit.
“The guy’s played a long time,” Berube said. “He’s been in a lot of playoff games. He’s won. He knows what to do. He’s a smart player.
“You go from team to team, the systems, they change a little bit. He’s played a lot of systems and a lot of different styles of hockey. So it’s nothing new for him to come here and see what we’re doing.”

Leddy, who spent four years with Chicago and seven with the New York Islanders before joining the Red Wings this season, has adapted quickly. Almost instantly.
“It’s been good,” said Leddy, 31. “I think you gotta credit all the guys for that. I’ve had an easy transition. Knowing some of the guys previously had really helped out as well.”
Leddy is averaging 21 minutes 6 seconds of ice time for the Blues, just a little over his career average (20:37). That troubling minus-33 goal differential with the Red Wings? He’s plus-6 already with the Blues, which would translate to plus-27 over a full season.
 
#479      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
In the National Hockey League postseason, home ice actually doesn’t really matter too much.
I know, I know, it’s all any Blues fan is talking about right now — the Blues, it seems, have just got to get home ice against Minnesota. When it comes to the playoffs, home ice is discussed more than Vanilla and Smirnoff in their heydays. But history and data show that home ice doesn’t sway many series.
Of course, a team and its fans want home ice because of what it signifies. In addition to any perceived psychological advantage over an underdog team, you get to match any line change after a whistle, you get the first two games at home and, yes, if the series goes seven, you get to host the big one. And there’s the whole sleep-in-your-own-bed thing.

But, look. In last year’s NHL playoffs, there were 15 series — and the team with home-ice advantage only won five of the series.
And the team without home-ice advantage actually won all four of the second-round series.
 
#481      
Blues lose 5-3 in Colorado.

Have to hope that Calgary beats Minnesota on Thursday for Blues to have a chance to get home ice on Friday vs. the Golden Knights.

Vegas may potentially not be having anything to play for in that one, depending on what happens tomorrow night in Chicago and Dallas.
 
#482      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
DENVER – First things first. It was one heck of a late-season run by the Blues.
A franchise-record 16-game point streak (14-02) that dated all the way back to the end of March.
Plus a 10-game road point streak (9-0-1) that stretched back nearly a week earlier into March, one that included seven consecutive road victories – tied for the longest in the NHL this season.
Colorado, once again the best in the West during the regular season, put an end to all that with a 5-3 win Tuesday at Ball Arena.
But for the Blues and their fans it was fun while it lasted. A lot of fun.

“It was great,” coach Craig Berube said. “The guys played tremendous hockey in that span, did a lot of good things. We were solid in all areas of the game I thought, from the goaltender out. Special teams were good – power play was producing and the penalty kill was excellent.
“And we scored enough goals to win – most games. We have the ability to score goals. And it was a great run.”
Until Tuesday, that is. Minus David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Robert Bortuzzo in the lineup due to injuries, the Blues played the Avalanche evenly in the first period, unraveled in the second period, and then made things very interesting in the third thanks to a couple of late goals by Ryan O’Reilly.
 
#483      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
DENVER — Nathan Walker has achieved some elusive, yet hard-earned staying power with the Blues.
Tuesday’s game with the Colorado Avalanche marked his 20th consecutive game since his latest callup from the American Hockey League on March 22. Twenty games in a row may not seem like much for some.
But for Walker, who turned 28 in February, it’s a bit of a toehold. After all, he had played in only 25 NHL games prior to this season. What’s been the difference between this and all those other callups that ended with him being sent back to the minors?
“I think consistency,” said the Australian. “I think on different occasions I’d get called up, play a couple good games here and there and then kind of lose that ‘jam,’ if you will. I think I’ve been able to be a little more consistent this year and kind of bring it each game. And I think that’s been helping me a lot this year.”

Entering Tuesday’s game, Walker had eight goals and four assists in 28 total games for the season with the Blues. Remember that hat trick on Dec. 9 against Detroit?
That was the first game of the first of three callups for him this season from the Springfield Thunderbirds.
For Walker, that consistency has been a product of a better mindset this time around.
Jordan Kyrou - Assist from Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Bluesmenu
 
#484      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Dan Caesar
The NHL playoffs begin next week, the first time with Disney and Turner combining to show the games.
Like in recent seasons, when NBC outlets had the contract, local telecasts will be permitted in the first round. But unlike recent seasons, there will be no blackouts of any local productions. That happened when NBC televised a contest over the air, on weekends.

So Blues fans will be able to watch Bally Sports Midwest's telecasts of all games in the team's series against Minnesota that will begin early next week. (Dates and times have not yet been announced.)
As in the past, the network productions also will be shown in St. Louis — now on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, TNT and TBS. So fans can choose between the John Kelly-Darren Pang or national versions of telecasts.


Pang also is working this season for TNT, but said his schedule there is being arranged so he won't miss any Blues games in the first round. He could be bouncing between the Blues and another series on a daily basis once the TNT/TBS coverage begins Thursday.
 
#486      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
Justin Faulk has done the math. This really has been a long hockey season.
“Realistically, we can say it feels long, but it was long,” he said Thursday. “The Olympic break was still in there so I think the season was 200 days vs. the standard of roughly 185. So as much as we want to say it feels long because of COVID and whatnot, and having shorter seasons, it actually was a longer season than normal.”
The curtain comes down on the very long first act of the Blues season on Friday with a game against Vegas at Enterprise Center, the last of their eventful 82 regular-season games. They’ve played outside in sub-zero temperatures, suited up six different goalies, including an artist from Florida as a substitute and actually had to start a goalie who was out of a job when they signed him. They had trouble finding 12 healthy forwards and once had only 10 for a game.

Yet they have gotten to the end in surprisingly good shape. A bit banged up to the point that at least one of their top nine forwards isn’t expected to be in the lineup, but having exceeded what one might have expected considering how everything has gone.
A win over Vegas would give the Blues 50 wins for the first time since 2014-15 and just the fourth time in club history, and 111 points, tying them with the 2013-14 team for the second-most, behind only the 114 by the 1999-2000 team. All of that is something when you think about how the team was struggling in March.
 
#487      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
Defenseman Marco Scandella will miss Friday’s regular-season finale with Vegas, but coach Craig Berube said it’s possible he’ll be available for the start of the playoffs next week.
Scandella was one of the first players on the ice before practice on Thursday, but he left the ice when the formal part of practice began.
“He’s not bad,” coach Craig Berube said. “I thought he did all right. He won’t be playing tomorrow but hopeful for Game 1.”
Scandella was injured on Tuesday in Denver when he crashed into the net, saving a goal after an errant pass during a delayed penalty almost went into the Blues’ empty net.

“It looked bad on the ice when it happened,” Berube said, “but fortunately I think he’s going to be OK.”
Torey Krug took Scandella’s place alongside Colton Parayko and Niko Mikkola skated alongside Robert Bortuzzo.
While everyone else who had missed games lately, Brayden Schenn, David Perron, Bortuzzo, was on the ice and took part in practice, Berube said that didn’t mean all of them would play on Friday.

Home ice still in play​

The Blues still need a parlay to get home-ice advantage in the playoffs. They need to get as many points from their last game as Minnesota gets from its last two. Minnesota plays Calgary tonight, and if the Wild lose that game in regulation, the Blues would clinch second with a win over Vegas. The game has no meaning for Vegas after they were eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday, marking the first time in franchise history they won’t be going to the playoffs.
 
#488      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky
Blues vs . Vegas , tied 3-3 after 2......................

Entertaining game and Blues must win in regulation and the Wild lose in regulation for the Blues to get home ice advantage......Wild is up 3-1 in their game.....
 
#489      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky
Blues lose 7-4 to the Vegas Golden Knights...........poor showing by Ville Husso.........but i still thinks he opens up as the starting goalkeeper Monday night for the Blues......
 
#490      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Monday, Game 1: at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m., BSM, ESPN
Wednesday, Game 2: at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m., BSM, ESPN

Friday, Game 3: at Blues, 8:30 p.m., BSM, TNT

May 8, Game 4: at Blues, 3:30 p.m., BSM, TBS
May 10, Game 5: at Minnesota, TBA
May 12, Game 6: at Blues, TBA
May 14, Game 7: at Minnesota, TBA
 
#491      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
No matter what happened Friday in St. Paul between the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche, coach Craig Berube said he wanted to see a strong closing effort from his hockey team.
Forechecking, defense, disciplined play. Laying a foundation, if you will, for the beginning of the playoffs Monday against Minnesota. He got none of the above in a 7-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Enterprise Center.
“It’s a tough game,” Berube said. “It really is. But it is what it is. The page is turned already. It’s over. Minny. That’s all. We’re all on Minny.”
As for Friday’s regular-season finale, the defense was loose and the goaltending by Ville Husso was, uh, less than desirable. He gave up a season-high six goals, with the seventh Vegas score coming on an empty-netter.

Will the Husso performance give Berube second thoughts about who to open the playoffs with in goal?
At least a couple of the goals allowed by Husso were on shots he normally stops. Any concern there coach?
“No. None,” Berube said. “I’ve said before, we have confidence in both goalies. But (Husso’s) proven this year that he can do the job. He’s played well all year.”

So the Blues finished the regular season with two losses and a 49-22-11 record. They finished third in the Central Division, with Minnesota getting home ice advantage in next week’s playoff series. The first two games of the series will take place in Minnesota.
 
#492      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
The Pietrangelo triplets — Evelyn, Oliver and Theodore — are closing in on 4 and growing like weeds. And then there’s Julia — the youngest — who turns 2 in September.
“The boys, they started skating lessons maybe a month ago,” Alex Pietrangelo said. “The team gives us ice every week, just for us, at the practice rink.
“So a couple guys have older kids, they’re at the other end. My kids kind of take the middle, they’re starting to skate. They’re starting to really understand what dad does for a living.”
Pietrangelo will have more time for the kids than anticipated because surprisingly — maybe shockingly — his Vegas Golden Knights will not be participating in the playoffs this season. A season that began with grand expectations ended with a thud Wednesday in Chicago, when a 4-3 shootout loss to the Blackhawks eliminated Vegas from playoff consideration.

Actually, the Golden Knights entered their season finale Friday against the Blues having lost each of their last three games via shootout, an excruciating way to go out.
“We can look at it this week and yeah, we lost points on the table or whatever,” Pietrangelo told the Post-Dispatch. “But there’s a lot of opportunities during the season that we didn’t get those points, right? So you gotta sometimes look at the whole thing. You don’t want to make excuses, but you look at the guys we lost — for the stretches that we lost guys — it was tough. We had a lot of money sitting on the sideline (injured) for most of the year.”
 
#493      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
Conventional wisdom says all the pressure is on the Minnesota Wild this postseason.
After all, they went big this season, buying out the salaries of veterans Zach Parise and Ryan Sutter as they reshaped their roster.
That could put them in salary cap hell next season, with $12.7 million of buyout money counting against the 2022-23 cap. But they’re not worried about next season.
They’re trying to win a Stanley Cup this season. Before the trade deadline, the Wild added goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, a future Hall of Famer who’s played on three Cup-winning teams. They also added some players with sandpaper in forward Nicolas Delauriers and defenseman Jacob Middleton.

It might not be now or never for the Wild, but it kind of seems that way.
But take a look at the Blues. Since winning the Cup, they haven’t gotten out of the first round.
The goaltender that guided them to the Cup, in 2019, Jordan Binnington, has lost nine straight postseason games. The goaltender expected to start Monday against Minnesota, Ville Husso, gave up a career-high six goals in his last start and has yet to play in an NHL playoff game.
They lost out on their chance for home-ice advantage in this playoff series by losing their final two regular-season contests.

And that 13-1-2 record against the Wild since Craig Berube took over as the Blues’ head coach — is that a blessing or a curse? Because the margin in the last two games between the teams in the regular season was razor-thing. And now is when beating the Wild matters most.
 
#494      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
If, as Shakespeare wrote, what is past is prologue, then there are lessons to learn from the Blues’ three meetings this season with the Wild. But what are they? No lead is safe? Always pack warm socks?
What has seemed inevitable for months, the Blues and Wild meeting in the playoffs, is coming to pass, with the best-of-seven series starting Monday night in St. Paul. The teams met only three times this season (down from eight last season), and when the Blues step on the ice for their morning skate on Monday, it will be their first time in Xcel Energy Center this season.
The Blues made one trip to the Twin Cities this season, but never got to St. Paul, instead playing the Wild in the Winter Classic at Target Field across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

And if numbers say the Blues are 3-0 against the Wild this season, from Minnesota’s side of the river, they went 0-1-2, as two of the games went to overtime. The Blues won the Winter Classic 6-4, but one would be remiss to draw many conclusions from a game played in subzero temperatures. And the other two games, other than both being overtime wins by the Blues, couldn’t be more different. In one, the Blues came back from being down 3-1 in the third period to win in OT. In the other, the Blues blew a 4-1 lead in the third period but won in OT.
“Both teams have the firepower to score for one,” said defenseman Colton Parayko on Sunday, “and then, two, to come back in a game like that. They just don’t quit. Both teams have no quit. Both teams want to win.”

Are there other lessons? Let’s revisit those games.
 
#495      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
Can a team’s lone All-Star also be its X-factor in the playoffs?
Such is the case for Jordan Kyrou, and I’ll make the case that he’ll be a wild card against the Wild.
Now, he scored only six goals in 26 games during March and April. Since the All-Star break, he had stints in which he’d been embarrassingly buried on the fourth line or even the bench.
But he showed some spirit in the final week of the season. He’s thrived in Minnesota before and in the spotlight before. And, frankly, the Wild can’t shut down every Blues line at the same time. If the nasty “GREEF” line will match up with the Blues’ Robert Thomas line, this means a lesser defensive line will try to stymie Kyrou, Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev.


“When he’s skating and attacking, with or without the puck, good things happen for him,” Blues coach Craig Berube said of Kyrou, who turns 24 on Thursday. “Like, the puck follows him. It’s amazing.”
Really, the final week was the most encouraging aspect of all of this. It would be hard to make an X-factor claim for a guy in a slump. But in the past three games, Kyrou scored two goals with five assists. At Colorado, he tallied a trio of assists.
 
#496      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

ST. PAUL, Minn. — They still bring up Jake Allen around here.
A couple locals mentioned the old Blues goalie to me Monday. They remember the 2017 series, when Allen seemingly single-handedly suffocated Minnesota. In five games, the Wild scored only eight goals. In a historic hockey town, they’re haunted by the details of defeat.
Well, a half-decade later, a new Blues goalie is a playoff villain: Ville.
It’s only one game — so far anyway — but Ville Husso grasped the Wild’s will in his goalie glove, also grabbing the attention of the hockey-mad Minnesotans. The Blues won Game 1, 4-0. Standing on his head, Husso took ‘W’ in ‘Wild’ and flipped it. Minnesota hasn’t seen a shutout this dominant since Jack Morris in Game 7 of the ’91 World Series. Husso made 37 saves. And then consider — the Wild had six power plays! And he was playing on the road!

Now, there was much confidence about Husso heading into this series, be it from the Blues or this keyboard, but a shutout? It wasn’t just a win, but a statement. This is how Husso makes himself heard. See, Husso’s coach and teammates say he isn’t much of a loudmouth. Even in card games on the team plane, teammate David Perron said, “We don't hear him talk ever, so … we don't know what his emotions are like yet.”

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Great win by the Blues,,,,,,,,,,,,,,all aspects of the game was brilliantly on display tonight as the Blues excelled in 5 on 5 , the special teams of PP and PK , and didn't let the Wild bully them at all..........Husso made so many great saves and Perron with the hat trick means a 1-0 lead in the series....

LETS GO BLUES
 
#497      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

ST. PAUL, Minn. - For a couple, three weeks as Minnesota and St. Louis jockeyed down the stretch for playoff positon, all the talk was home ice advantage. Who would get it? How much of a factor would it be?
Well, Minnesota ended up with home ice by finishing second in the Central Division, which meant they would open this series with two games at home, and potentially get a Game 7 at Xcel Energy Center as well.
It took the Blues all of 2 ½ hours to negate home ice. They were disciplined, determined, and opportunistic on offense, defeating the Wild 4-0 before a sellout crowd of 19,053 that was rowdy at the start before being reduced to booing their team as the Blues killed off one Minnesota power play after another.

Ville Husso recorded a 37-save shutout, David Perron logged his first postseason hat trick, and the Blues absolutely destroyed the Wild on special team.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday at Xcel.
“I talked about (home ice) a lot because I do think it’s part of the game, and it’s important,” coach Craig Berube said. “But like I said, we’ve been a good road team for quite some time here. Since I’ve been here, the road’s never been an issue. We’re comfortable playing on the road.”
 
#498      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

ST. PAUL, Minn. — So, they have this cheeseburger here.
It’s called the Juicy Lucy. It’s their toasted ravioli. And when you take a first bite, well, the burger is just a burger. But as you keep going a little deeper, toward the middle, you find the good stuff. See, the cheese is inside the burger. And when you get to that bite, it’s legendary dairy, a taste of burger bliss.
That’s what happened with Kirill Kaprizov. Most scouts probably just saw a burger. But Minnesota saw a Juicy Lucy — the Wild knew, deep inside this kid, was greatness.
And in the fifth round of the draft in 2015, with the 135th pick, Minnesota drafted the Russian forward. A season ago, he won the Calder Trophy as the National Hockey League’s top rookie. This season, he tallied 108 points, the most-ever by a Wild player. The franchise had drafted its franchise player.

And as the Blues bear down and try to win this first-round playoff series that opened Monday night, their defense of Kaprizov will be paramount.
“His strength and his skating and his shot are pretty incredible,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “All three of them. And then it boils down to — he just has a mindset of he’s going beat you one on one. And he’s highly competitive. For me, what separates guys like him, the star players and people like that, is his competitiveness.”
 
#499      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
ST PAUL, Minn. — This year, the thing that the Blues do best isn’t goaltending, isn’t defense, isn’t physical play. It’s scoring goals.
At 3.77 goals per game in the regular season, the Blues finished third in the NHL in scoring. In a franchise that began in 1967, only four Blues teams have done better.
And it wasn’t just the Blues. Scoring was up all over the league. In fact, it was the highest-scoring season in the NHL since 1995-96. Right down to the final full day of the regular season — a day on which more goals were scored than in any single day in league history.
So as the Blues began the postseason Monday night against the Minnesota Wild, the question was: Can the Blues and the rest of the playoff participants keep scoring? After all, defense and goaltending usually carry the day in the postseason.

“I’m interested to see,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said before the series began. “This is the first year where so many teams rely on scoring to win.
“You look at the number of goalies that have been impact goalies the last decade — they’re out of the league (retired) or on their last leg. And then you look at expansion. I think those are the two things that have made goal-scoring go up. Now, with that being said, we’ve eliminated 50% of the league.”
 
#500      

IlliniwekKDR

Colorado Springs, CO
Man, last night was fun to watch. You can't expect your penalty kill unit to perform that well every night, however. Gotta stay out of the box a little bit more going forward. So many great saves from Husso and blocked shots from the skaters kept the Wild out of this one.