St. Louis Blues 21-22

#501      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
ST. PAUL, Minn. — In a game that featured 18 penalties and one penalty shot, the Blues spent 25 minutes 3 seconds either on the power play, on the penalty kill, or engaged in 4-on-4 play because of coincidental minors.
Surely, coach Craig Berube couldn’t have expected that would be the case going into Game 1 of his team’s playoff series against the Minnesota Wild.
“You never know how games go, right?” Berube said. “Nobody does. All I know is we gotta be more disciplined in our penalties. That’s what I focus on.”
Berube would’ve liked better play offensively in 5-on-5 situations in the Blues’ 4-0 victory. With the exception of the fourth line, which was centered by Tyler Bozak, the Blues didn’t have a ton of possession time at even strength. Then again, there was only 34 minutes 57 seconds of 5-on-5 play Monday because of all the penalties.

“From an offensive standpoint, 5-on-5, there just wasn’t a lot of time, a lot of ice,” Berube said. “We pride ourselves on being a good offensive team. I think we can do a better job there.
“But overall, there was a lot of penalties, so it limited 5-on-5 play quite a bit. ... It limits a lot of guys’ ice time and limits the flow of the bench, but our team did a good job of staying composed throughout it.”
Penalties were plentiful in the four opening-round games played Monday to open this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. The Toronto-Tampa Bay game featured 24 penalties.
 
#502      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The game was long-ago decided. The Blues were up 4-0 with just 1:46 to play Monday at Xcel Energy Center.
Pavel Buchnevich was down on the ice, on his knees, and about to get up when Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon gave a two-hand slam with his stick from behind on Buchnevich’s lower legs.
It’s not the kind of play you make in an attempt to play defense. The blow could’ve messed up a knee or even broken an ankle. The fact that Buchnevich wasn’t injured, and quickly returned to the game, is probably the only reason why Spurgeon wasn’t suspended.
He received a two-minute minor for crosschecking and on Tuesday morning was fined $5,000 by the NHL. Spurgeon makes $7.575 million a year, so a $5,000 fine is like getting a parking ticket.

The Blues expected a physical series, but the Spurgeon hit was just one example of the Wild losing their composure ... while the Blues simply went about their business.
“Listen, I think both teams are all for playing hard and physical,” said Brayden Schenn, one of the Blues’ alternate captains and someone who doesn’t shy away from contact. “I think you see a guy (Buchnevich) in a vulnerable position and obviously (Spurgeon) probably tried to hurt him. I don’t think he is that type of player.
 
#503      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Last week, Gail King attended a retirement party in South St. Paul and spotted an old friend.
“He came up to me and said, ‘Is Justin going to ruin my dream?’” recalled King, the mother of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk. “And I said, ‘Well, I certainly hope so.’”
And on Monday in Minnesota, a Minnesotan helped beat Minnesota. Faulk was one of the Blues’ best players on the ice, and as we head into Game 2, it’s apparent that the defensive reunion of Faulk and Torey Krug is benefiting the Blues, maybe even more than the club realized.
Strategically, coach Craig Berube recently had Krug with Robert Bortuzzo and Faulk with Nick Leddy. It sure was working. But Marco Scandella’s injury before Game 1 opened up a spot on the third of the pairings, alongside Colton Parayko.

So, in Game 1, the coach went Parayko-Leddy, Faulk-Krug and Niko Mikkola with Bortuzzo.

Minnesota did not score a goal.

And here’s the thing — having Faulk and Krug on defense also unlocks a lot of offense. There is this heartbeat to the Blues when they’re out there together — a palpitation of anticipation, if you will. For a team that has three lines filled of 20-goal scorers, also having a pairing of goal-seeking defensemen seemingly tilts the ice. And the series is already tilted in St. Louis’ favor, following the 4-0 win in Game 1.
 
#506      

IlliniwekKDR

Colorado Springs, CO
Just as an FYI for you all, we do have the Stanley Cup playoff thread on here.
Season 1 Beth GIF by Rick and Morty
 
#512      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Ben Frederickson
Abright orange ladder could be found leaning against the wall outside of the Enterprise Center media room Thursday, but it’s not like Blues coach Craig Berube opened it up and walked beneath it.
No black cats were spotted darting across the hallways.
Steven Santini, hustled to St. Louis from the minors to backfill for an injury-caused erosion of defense, was not assigned No. 13.
So, can these Blues catch a break, please?
Hockey gods, if you’re reading, take Friday night off. Quit tilting the scales against the locals. You have influenced this series enough as it is.

Chief is not much interested in a cosmic conversation. This was as close as he came Thursday, after the Blues returned home tied, but having paid a big price.
“Who knows if we don’t break that stick on that goal?” Berube said, referencing the detonated piece of defenseman Robert Bortuzzo’s equipment that might as well have been given an assist on Joel Eriksson Ek’s first-period strike in Game 2.
The goal set the stage for the Wild’s 6-2 series-tying win. Unfortunately, it was not the worst thing that happened to Bortuzzo. He later left the ice after taking a puck to the face. It looked bad Wednesday night and did not sound better Thursday. What are the Blues missing when Bortuzzo does not play? They are missing the kind of defenseman who will block a puck with his face.
 
#513      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
The Blues’ top scoring line of Robert Thomas, Vladimir Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich was pretty much a non-factor in Game 1 of the series, almost totally shut down by Minnesota’s GREEF line of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno. Tarasenko had no shot attempts in the game and Thomas just one. It was the least productive of the team’s four lines, with a 20.5 expected goals percentage and a 10.0 Corsi percentage.
The group came around in Game 2, with Tarasenko scoring a goal in the 6-2 loss. The group had a 72.2 expected goals percentage and a 72.7 Corsi percentage. But they’ve still got some ground to make up; their expected goals percentage through two games is 37.5 percent, 21st in the league. In the regular season, the line’s expected goals percentage of 56.7 was 11th best among lines that played at least 300 minutes, according to moneypuck.com. (The GREEF line, by the way, was third best at 62.2 percent.)

“Better job,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I thought when I look back, Buchy hit the cross bar, Tommer had some good looks that just got deflected or just missed and then Vladi scored, hit a post, I thought (Marc-Andre) Fleury really made a good save on that rush play where we went backdoor. It was a great save by Fleury on that play. They had some looks.
“I was pleased to see them get more offense last game than they did the game before. They’ve just got to keep battling through it. There’s not going to be easy ice. Overall offensively, we didn’t do enough in the game. We’ve got to get to the net more. We’ve got to make it difficult more. We’ve got to get to the net, we’ve got to get second and third opportunities around the net and we’ve got to get there.”
 
#514      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
It has come to this, Blues fans: Calle Rosen-Steven Santini.
No, we’re not talking about a defensive pairing for Springfield vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the American Hockey League.
We’re talking about Game 3 of a Stanley Cup playoff series, against one of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL. As the injuries mount on the Blues’ blueline, Rosen-Santini could be the team’s third pairing Friday at Enterprise Center against the Minnesota Wild.
With injuries sidelining three top-six defensemen — Robert Bortuzzo, Nick Leddy and Marco Scandella — the Blues called up Santini on Thursday from their Springfield (Mass.) affiliate in the AHL. If none of the three injured Blues’ D-men is available, Santini will be in the lineup against Kirill Kaprizov and Co.

“He’s obviously a real good leader down there,” coach Craig Berube said of Santini. “He gives you everything he has every shift. There’s no doubt about that. He’s a difficult guy to play against; he’s physical and just simple with the puck. That’s his game.”
Berube was speaking mainly based on reports he has gotten from Springfield, but partly from first-hand knowledge because Santini played five games for the Blues last season — three in the regular season and two in the playoffs against Colorado.
 
#515      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

The Blues will be without defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy for Game 3 of the playoffs on Friday night at Enterprise Center, but there’s a chance that Marco Scandella will play.
Coach Craig Berube said “possibility,” when asked about Scandella’s status. “Really it’s a game-time decision.”
Scandella was not part of the first six defensemen to take part in line rushes instead skating with the injured Scott Perunovich, but he also did not stay on the ice at the end of practice with the scratches and other injured players. Scandella was on the ice for the morning skate for Games 1 and 2 but did not play.
Bortuzzo and Leddy were not on the ice. Berube said they were feeling “a little bit” better.

Berube is also making one lineup change, putting Dakota Joshua on to the fourth line in place of Nathan Walker. It will be Joshua’s first career NHL playoff game.
Berube said the team was looking for more physicality.
 
#516      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
There were rally towels to be waved. The pregame light show was different and fun. In a pleasant surprise, Hall of Famer Bernie Federko – wearing a Blues jersey – came out to bang a drum, leading a cheers of “Let’s Go Blues.”
Except the Blues didn’t go anywhere.
Once again, they fell behind early. And once again, their high-scoring offense couldn’t get going in a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday at Enterprise Center.
“Obviously, a tough one,” veteran center Tyler Bozak said. “They got a quick couple goals early which is not the way you want to start. . . .We knew it was gonna be a long series. It was gonna be adversity, ups and downs.”

Well adversity has arrived at Clark Avenue and Brett Hull Way, and if the Blues don’t respond quickly it will not be a long series. The Blues are halfway down the road to elimination in their opening round playoff series against the Wild – down two games to one.
Getting behind the St. Louis defense repeatedly for either breakaways or 2-on-1’s, the Wild were up 2-0 just 138 seconds into the game or before most fans (of drinking age) had finished off that first malted beverage.
“I think it was definitely deflating for us,” said captain Ryan O’Reilly, who accounted for the only St. Louis goal, which came after the team was done 4-0. “But we’re a veteran team and we should’ve responded better. Bounces are going to happen. We came out with great energy, feeding off the building, and I thought we did some things well, but maybe got too excited offensively.”
 
#517      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
For Blues fans who came away from Friday night’s 5-1 loss feeling they had seen the beginning of the end of the season, the Minnesota Wild would like to offer an opposing viewpoint.
“This game is over,” said Minnesota’s Mats Zuccarello in the aftermath of a 5-1 win over the Blues that, along with the growing list of injured Blues defensemen, seemed to swing the series definitively back in the Wild’s direction. “You forget about this one. They’re going to come strong next game and we have to be ready.
“That’s a helluva team. They’ve been good for many years, a tough team to play against so I think it’s good to get a win here, get some confidence, but at the same time, this game is over, you’re looking toward the next one and know they’re going to come out hard, so we’ve got to match that.”


“Today we had success,” coach Dean Evason said. “We have to build for the next game.”
In the world of building, the Wild have given themselves a pretty good foundation over the previous two games, and it now comes with a 2-1 series lead and home ice once again, though considering that two of the three games so far have been won by the road team, that may not be that big a deal. They also snapped a seven-game losing streak in Enterprise Center.
The Wild got the win doing all the things they wanted to do. They wanted to take the Enterprise Center crowd out of the game and they did that, first with a goal 39 seconds in by Jordan Greenway on their first shot of the game (“That’s nice,” said Greenway) and then with a goal by Kirill Kaprizov at the 2:18 mark that was banked in off goalie Ville Husso from behind the net. (“He’s just one of those players that finds a way to score from everywhere,” said Zuccarello, “and it’s nothing new for us. When you work hard you get the bounces.”)
 
#518      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
It’s probably not unusual for the Blues to have a meeting before practice, as was the case Saturday at Centene Community Ice Center. But the tenor of this one was probably just a bit out of the ordinary.
With the Blues down two games to one in their best-of-seven playoff series with Minnesota, suffice it to say it didn’t involve passing out juice boxes and singing “Kumbaya.” After an embarrassing 5-1 loss Friday, the Blues have issues to resolve and not much time to do so.
Two more losses and one of the best regular seasons in franchise history will have been wasted in an all-too-brief postseason.
“We had a tough meeting this morning, which I think was needed,” coach Craig Berube said following Saturday’s practice.

Berube isn’t one to sugar-coat things. And that certainly wasn’t the case Saturday morning.
“But these guys know,” Berube said. “They’re smart guys. They know what’s going on. They know where we’ve got to be better.”
And however unpleasant it may be at the time, the players know exactly where they stand with Berube, which they appreciate.
“It’s nice to get a little spark sometimes,” forward Jordan Kyrou sad. “Get a little fire under your butt and get you a little (ticked) off, so it’s good.”
 
#519      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
The initial notion was that it was desperate.
Change goalies?
Ville Husso was not the reason the Blues lost Game 3. And he was not the reason they lost Game 2. And, if anything, he was the reason they won Game 1.
But the thought, which lingered after Friday’s loss, seemed to loom on Saturday at practice. And it led to this conclusion: Here’s thinking the Blues should start Jordan Binnington in Sunday’s Game 4.
Be bold. Do something that emotionally affects the team and injects the team with energy. And it’ll give the Wild a new look in net.
Husso wasn’t categorically bad in those two losses. Even, say, 2019 Jordan Binnington would have had trouble stopping breakaways and 2 on 1s. Oh, and Husso isn’t the one out there turning over the puck or taking slow steps to get back on defense. And he’s not out there making poor passes or missing the goal on shots. He had to suffer watching all that, as we all did.
But the Blues need something to rejuvenate them. And in hockey, that’s how coaches do that for their teams.

Well, will coach Craig Berube actually start Binnington?
“We’ll decide that tomorrow,” he said Saturday.
So, you’re saying there’s a chance?

“It’s always in our thoughts, yeah.”
 
#520      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
At a point in the season where all injury discussion becomes extremely — and at times comically — vague, even the handful of words Blues coach Craig Berube used to describe defenseman Torey Krug’s condition did not sound good.
“It’s going to be some time,” he said.
Krug, who hurt his left leg in the first period when he hit the boards trying to check Matt Boldy, brings to four the number of top-six defensemen the Blues have been without during the three games of the Blues-Wild first round playoff series, though one, Marco Scandella, has returned to action. Only Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk have played in each of the first three games among the top six.

And while the Blues may be down a defenseman again, a possible reinforcement could be at hand. Berube said after practice Saturday at Centene Community Ice Center that Scott Perunovich, out since Jan. 15 with a bad wrist that required surgery, could be ready to go.
“We’ll see,” he said. “He’s a possibility right now too.”
The updates along the way on Perunovich have been vague as well. On the morning of Game 1, Berube said Perunovich’s return “might be sooner than you think.” But after Game 2, in which the Blues lost both Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo, Berube downplayed the prospect of Perunovich stepping in for Game 3.
 
#521      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
The best scorer in Wild history was so open, the closest Blues defenseman might’ve been team exec Al MacInnis in a suite. On a power play Sunday, Kirll Kaprizov received a cross-ice pass and unleashed a one-timer, the shot we’ve seen in highlights all season. But goalie Jordan Binnington valiantly slid across the crease to save it.
This is what was missing. It wasn’t the saves on the shots that should be saved — it was the saves on the shots that were so good, they shouldn’t have been saved.
And those Binnington saves saved the season. Coach Craig Berube made the strategic call to replace Ville Husso for Game 4 — a move, you might recall, I was all for — and Binnington rose to the moment like it was 2019. In the Blues’ 5-2 home win, “Binner” blocked 28 shots. And with the series now 2-2, not only are we going back to Minnesota for Game 5, but we’ll also be back at Enterprise Center for Game 6.

Oh, and here’s thinking we’ll be back in Minnesota for Game 7.
“We lost two in a row and just (wanted to) change the momentum and the look a little bit — I thought he was really good,” Berube said. “He played the puck exceptionally well. That’s a big thing. He looked real calm and cool in net.”
 
#522      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky


Jim Thomas
We now have a best-of-three series, hockey fans. Win two and advance; lose two and go home.
All along, coach Craig Berube and the Blues expected a long playoff series — and here we are.
“They’re a great team, they really are,” Berube said of the Wild. “They’re hard to play against. . . . We’re a good team, too, so here we are. Tied.”
Getting two goals each from Jordan Kyrou and David Perron, and strong goaltending with Jordan Binnington in the net, the Blues defeated Minnesota 5-2 Sunday before a boisterous sellout crowd of 18,096 at Enterprise Center.
The series, knotted at two games each, moves to St. Paul, Minn., for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

For the Blues, the story of the day was as much about the path they took as the final result.
It’s not true that Berube pulled out names from a hat to come up with his lineup. It just seemed that way. OK, totally understandable on defense where the Blues were missing Robert Bortuzzo, Torey Krug and Nick Leddy because of injury.

But among the Blues’ top three lines at forward, it was strange to see:
• Brayden Schenn-Ryan O’Reilly-Perron together for only the sixth time overall this season and the first time since March 12.
 
#523      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
Minnesota was one of the best teams in the league this season, coming back from more than a goal down nine times, tied for the most in the league. When the Wild played the Blues on April 16, they were down by three goals and came back to tie before losing in overtime.
So being down 3-1 going into the third wasn’t the worst situation they’ve been in this season and when Matt Boldy scored 2:39 into the third period, it was a one-goal game and anything was possible. And then when the Wild got a power play with 8:02 to go after a slashing call on Brayden Schenn, the chance was there.
But Minnesota couldn’t take advantage of that power play, just like the other three power plays it had in the game, and fell 5-2 in Game 4 as their first-round playoff series with the Blues evened at two games each.

Minnesota had 7:44 of power-play time and managed just five shots on goal.
"Yeah, we missed the net," Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. "We had good looks. We missed the net. We just looked at it, I think the stats say we had 20 missed shots and I'd say a lot of them were probably on the PP that we just didn't hit the net where we can get that second, third opportunity. So that last one obviously hurts us. We score on that last one, it’s a tie game. But we got to find a way to score the power play, for sure."
"I think as a group we feel like we're never out of a game,” said Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba, who blocked a loose puck with his skate on the goal line to keep Minnesota within a goal in the third. “So third period there, in between the second and third, we just said, 'let's come in waves, just trust each other and stick with the process.' Yeah, we tried."
 
#524      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tom Timmermann
While the status of injured defensemen Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo remains uncertain for Game 5 on Tuesday, Blues coach Craig Berube confirmed that Marco Scandella will miss the game.
Scandella was originally hurt against Colorado on April 26, the next to last game of the regular season, and missed three games, returning to action for Game 3 of the ongoing playoff series against Minnesota. He played 17:18 in that contest, of Friday, and Berube said he came through fine. But on Sunday he played a short first shift, missed his second shift, went back out for a shift that lasted just 11 seconds and then was out for almost 10 minutes before his final shift, which ended with Minnesota’s first goal. He left the game and did not return.

Berube said after Game 4 that there was a “decent chance” Leddy and/or Bortuzzo could play in Game 5, which is set for Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minn. Both were on the ice for a 30-minute optional practice on Monday at Centene Community Ice Center, while Scandella was not. Berube said he would have a better idea of their status after the skate, but there won’t be any further updates until after Tuesday’s morning skate in St. Paul. The two were full participants in the practice.
Also on the ice for practice were Alexei Toropchenko and Steven Santini, who both saw less than five minutes of ice time in Game 4, the healthy scratches from Game 4 as well as rehabbing Mackenzie MacEachern and now-backup goalie Ville Husso.
 
#525      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
The last time it happened in Blues history, Robert Thomas was 9 … months old, that is.
It was April 21, 2000. Game 5 vs. San Jose. The Blues had two defensemen, in a non-overtime playoff game, play 30 minutes each (per Hockey-Reference.com).
Well, in Game 4 of the current Wild-Blues series, Thomas’ teammates Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko achieved the feat with their aching feet. It was, for a night, reminiscent of Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis in 2000, when the Blues essentially had a future Hall of Famer on “D” at all times during the 5-3 win.

Against the Wild on Sunday at Enterprise Center, the Blues squeezed out every second of energy from Faulk and Parayko. Only the refs and the Blues logo spent more time on the ice. These two ice warriors emboldened a beleaguered blueline, if you consider, incredibly, the Blues were without four regular starting defensemen for the majority of the game.
In the 5-2 win, which tied the series at two games, goalie Jordan Binnington was the star of the contest, center Ryan O’Reilly was the soul of the game, while Faulk and Parayko were the heart. Though, “heart” implies that they’re humans; “Those guys,” Binnington said, “are machines.”