St. Louis Blues 21-22

#526      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
At times, Blues coach Craig Berube must feel like a parent with a couple dozen children.
They all have different personalities. Different strengths and weaknesses. Different egos and needs. His job is to keep them all motivated, growing, and producing. Some need more attention than others.
Now among those “kids,” there’s a prodigy capable of great things. Jaw-dropping feats. But he sometimes can leave you scratching your head or even give you a headache.
With that in mind, the further adventures of Jordan Kyrou continued Sunday at Enterprise Center in the Blues’ 5-2 Game 4 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

Kyrou was dazzling for most of the afternoon. He scored two goals, including the game winner midway through the second period. He found open ice, eluded defenders. And even broke up a couple of plays defensively with alert backchecking.
During a tough-love team meeting on Saturday, Kyrou said Berube’s blunt talk left him upset — adding that he didn’t think that was a bad thing. Judging by Kyrou’s play Sunday against the Minnesota Wild, the young forward responded well.
“I guess,” Berube said, chuckling. “We were all mad that we were in that situation. It’s OK to be mad. You should be (upset). We lose two games in a row and we didn’t play very well.”
 
#527      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

1. Perron proving playoff value once more​

The Blues' 5-2 Game 4 win on Sunday offered up a long list of contributors worthy of praise.
Craig Berube and his guys are up against it, even in this now-tied series.
Another defenseman has probably been injured since you started reading this sentence. Duct tape is the new official sponsor of the blue line. It's getting absurd.
But Berube dug deep into his bag of tricks, and every lever he pulled seemed to work, whether it was firing up his players in a feisty pep talk Saturday, making the goalie switch or scrambling the lines to produce rare yet effective combinations.

Jordan Binnington made one of the most impressive starts of his career. He's been the hero. He's been the fallen hero. Can he be the redeemed hero? A one-playoff-game sample size says don’t write him off just yet. I told you he would be a part of this thing before it was said and done. He's done this before, and he's worked hard to be ready for a shot at redemption.

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5 topics.........................good read......................
 
#528      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky
Alexa looking fine tonight ........................She really really does...........................
 
#529      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky
Alexa lookin better than fine tonight.......................she looking really really fine...............she lookin NL fine tonight............

alexa01.jpg


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wow..................yummy...........................
 
#531      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The statistics tell you that when a best-of-7 series is tied two games apiece, the winner of Game 5 goes on to win the series more than 79 percent of the time.
With that in mind, advantage St. Louis. Getting a third period hat trick from Vladimir Tarasenko – including two huge goals early in the period - the Blues erased a 2-1 Minnesota lead for a 5-2 victory before a loud and sold out crowd at Xcel Energy Center.
As a result, the Blues are now just one victory away from erasing the Wild in this series, with Game 6 on Thursday at Enterprise Center.
Just when you thought the Blues had no answer for Kirill “The Thrill” Kaprizov, who scored both Minnesota goals on first period power plays, Tarasenko stepped up and said: I got this. The hat trick was his second in postseason play and seventh overall as an NHL player.

“It's not the time to think about any achievements,” Tarasenko said. “The biggest thing is we won the game and let's move onto the next one. At this point with the experience in 2019, we learned that only wins matter and it's good we have a win.”
So outwardly, at least, he didn’t seem overjoyed to score three times – twice against future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury and once into an empty-net.
“Happy to win,” Tarasenko said. “Obviously happy to score, I'm not going to lie. But more happy to win.”
 
#532      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
ST. PAUL, Minn. — In an empty rink, he shot at an empty net.
Again and again, Kirill Kaprizov peppered pucks Tuesday after the Minnesota morning practice. Without a goalie to block the shot — or the view — an onlooker could clearly track the trajectory of each one. And Kaprizov was placing the pucks perfectly in the upper corners. He was like a pool hustler. Minnesota Fats on skates.
As I watched from the shadows, these lefthanded snaps sure looked familiar.
This guy snipes like Vladimir Tarasenko.
And sure enough, in the biggest game of the season, Kaprizov scored twice in the first period — and the second goal seared over Jordan Binnington’s right shoulder into a nook of netting.

After two periods, the game and the series was tied 2-2 — and you had to wonder if there would be a hat trick before the night was through.

And there was.

It was the reclamation of Tarasenko — his pride, his status and his team in this series.
The Blues’ leading scorer entered the night minus-six in the series. He had just one goal. And then, in a triumph, he scored three goals in Tuesday's third period. It was all the scoring in the period. A hat trick. A natural hat trick. St. Louis defeated Minnesota, 5-2, in Game 5.
 
#533      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Before Sunday, it had been 112 games — or almost four months — since Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich had played in a National Hockey League game.
Even if you count games played for Springfield (Mass.) in the American Hockey League, it had been 86 games — or nearly three months — since Perunovich played in a professional game.
Either way, that’s a long time between games. But you would’ve never known it by the way Perunovich played in Sunday’s 5-2 Blues victory over the Minnesota Wild — especially on the power play. It was his first game since undergoing wrist surgery on March 15.
The 23-year-old rookie from Hibbings, Minn., looked like he never left.

“It’s tough, but that’s what he brings, right?” asked fellow native Minnesotan Justin Faulk, who like Perunovich played at Minnesota Duluth in college. “We’ve all known that he has that skill and that ability to run the power play, playing quarterback.
“He did it earlier this year for us when he was asked to and did a good job on it, for sure. And I think it’s put him in a spot that he’s comfortable in and used to, in a sense. Now the stage is a little bit bigger, but you know, it’s Coach’s job is to put the players in position to succeed and that’s a good spot for him.”
 
#534      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky


Jim Thomas
Torey Krug and Marco Scandella, two important pieces on the Blues’ defense, remain sidelined with lower-body injuries.
But the Blues did get a couple other top-six defensemen back in Game 5 Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild in Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo, and their presence was felt in a 5-2 victory.
Leddy played 18 minutes 1 second, about three minutes below his average regular-season ice time since coming to the Blues at the trade deadline. He had been sidelined since Game 1 with an upper-body injury.
Leddy did not see any time on the penalty kill Tuesday, which is where Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov scored both his goals. But as was the case in Game 1, he did a good job against Kaprizov in 5-on-5 play.

“He does a great job of being tight on (Kaprizov) and not giving too much room,” coach Craig Berube said. “He has the feet to stay with him and that’s important. Because (Kaprizov’s) fast and he can spin off you easily.
“You gotta go at him hard. but also you gotta contain him in certain situations because he’s the type of guy that you think you’re gonna knock him off the puck and you don’t. He just spins right off you and creates separation.”
Bortuzzo, seeing his first action since getting struck in the side of the head by a puck in Game 2, played 10:50, which is about 3½ minutes below his season average. He had two hits, one blocked shot, and even with a black eye from the Game 2 injury, could be seen sliding to block a shot on at least one occasion.
 
#535      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
In St. Louis, they talk about Game 7 in Boston with a reverence reserved for the Rams’ Super Bowl win and the David Freese game.
It was one of those shared experiences that locals will forever share where they were when it happened.
It was the 2019 night St. Louis won the Stanley Cup.
But Game 7 only happened because the Blues blew Game 6 at home.
It only makes the story better. But at the time, man, that sure was jaw-dropping game they dropped.
So, here we go again — the Blues host Game 6 of a playoff series Thursday, while leading 3-2.

They need to avoid “déjà Blue.”

I have a bad feeling about what could happen if they go back to Minnesota. The Blues need to end this in Game 6 — and, thus, win their first series since that 2019 Cup Final.
Scoring first could unlock an onslaught.
The Wild will say all the right things, but its coaches and players know the precarious situation the franchise is in. Just like azaleas at the Masters and roses at the Kentucky Derby, the wilting of the Wild is a spring sports tradition. Minnesota made the playoffs in five of the past six years and lost in the first round all five times.
 
#536      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
It wasn’t that long ago that Jordan Binnington was pulled 13½ minutes into an early-April game in Edmonton after allowing four goals in 13 shots.
A clearly frustrated Craig Berube said after that contest that Binnington simply needed to play better. Berube seemed to be running out of patience with the goaltender who had won a Stanley Cup just three years earlier with the Blues.
Well, look what’s happened to Binnington since Edmonton. He’s 7-1-0, has reclaimed the No. 1 goalie spot, and with victories in Games 4 and 5 against the Minnesota Wild has the Blues within one victory of taking their first-round playoff series.
As for the aftermath of that Edmonton meltdown. ...

“Binner, he’s an accountable guy,” Berube said Wednesday, back in St. Louis after the Blues’ 5-2 victory Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. “He always has been. At the time, he knew that he probably had to play better. I voiced my confidence in him and the team.”
And here we are. Just when it looked like Binnington was running out of chances — and might have reached rock bottom — he reasserted himself at the most important time of the year.
The Blues’ goalie situation has had more twists and turns this season than a suspense novel. So who knows what lies ahead?
 
#537      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason is one of the NHL’s more expressive coaches. When something bad happen, you can see simultaneous surprise, anger and horror in his eyes – like he just discovered a rabid badger rummaging through his pantry.
You may have noticed that look in Game 5 as the Blues rallied for a 5-2 victory and a 3-2 series lead. He was especially displeased with Brandon Saad’s game-tying goal and triggered the comeback.
“We did a few uncharacteristic things,” Evason told reporters afterward. “Normally we're really resilient in that area, real good. We made some mistakes but they're a good hockey club. It would have been nice for us to collect that third one for sure but probably that second goal, they just throw it and we're in position and they make a good tip obviously. That goal probably hurt us more than anything.”

Ah, but not much separates the Wild and Blues – so you can expect a robust response now that Minnesota is skating on the brink of elimination.
“We've seen our group respond and we're expecting our group to respond,” Evason said. “It's a must-win. It's desperation. We're going to play our best game, all the cliches that you want to throw out there. It's one hockey game at a time, and we'll compete our butts off and see where we sit at the end of the night.”

Marcus Foligno noted that the Wild normally answer the challenge when push comes to shove.
 
#538      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Confident, cohesive and a little crazy, the Blues stepped off the bus that freezing Winter Classic afternoon in beach wear. Undaunted by Minnesota (both the hockey team and the elements), the “Beach Boys” won the outdoor game. And so, after every Blues home win since, Beach Boys music blared. Sure enough, it happened Thursday at Enterprise Center, as Minnesota’s players, suddenly on summer vacation, became “Beach Boys” themselves.
The swagger-fueled Blues swatted away the Wild for the fourth time in six games, winning 5-1 on Thursday to advance to the second round. And along the way, the Blues overcame seemingly all the adversity — be it injured defensemen and a struggling goalie — and all their adversaries — be it Kirill Kaprizov or Marcus Foligno, who said Thursday morning: “We went into Vegas last year in that hostile arena, crazy fans, much louder than this rink, and we stole a game. That's what we have to do tonight.”

They didn’t do it.
And while I’ve never been to the Vegas rink, I can’t imagine it being that much louder than Enterprise Center was Thursday night.
And we knew the Blues needed to demoralize the Wild early — but really, it was a two-period process. And an impressive one. Nick Leddy (Nick Leddy?) scored the first and only first-period goal, but after two, the Blues led 4-0.
 
#539      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Ben Frederickson
Blues coach Craig Berube said something funny the other day that doubled as a reminder of why the NHL playoffs are finally back to feeling right.
It was after the Blues won Game 4 of this first-round series against the Wild, which turned out to be the win that tilted this series toward Thursday night's Game 6 clinch. Jordan Kyrou had played great in Game 4. The young All-Star forward netted two goals, but Berube suggested he could have had as many as four. And yes, Berube admitted, he at times wishes Kyrou would be quicker to unleash that wicked shot. But Berube, with a grin, said he doesn’t holler for it from the bench — shooooot! — like Blues fans do from their Enterprise Center seats.

“They’re not going to hear it anyhow,” Berube said.
Thankfully.
They probably would have heard him last postseason, when crowds were still limited in size due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Blues were bounced from the hockey bracket by Colorado in the first round. The Avalanche won every game by at least three goals. It wasn’t very close. It was a bit embarrassing. It is easy to forget now that those games were played with half-sized crowds. Crowds of 9,000 saw the Blues lose their home games. Colorado was limited to fewer than 8,000 at its games.
They definitely would have heard Berube shouting from the bench the postseason before that one, when fan-less bubble hockey was the play. That postseason the Blues’ losing streak reached five between three qualifier losses and back-to-back losses to Vancouver to start the first round. They fought back to even the series then dropped the final two games. They showed some fight late. But they never looked like the defending Stanley Cup champion that was leading the Western Conference when the season was shut down.
 
#540      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky


Jim Thomas
Nick Leddy opened the door. Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak and Vladimir Tarasenko then kicked it over.
For the first time since the Stanley Cup season, the Blues have made it out of the first round. Next stop, Denver. And the Colorado Avalanche.
The Blues said farewell to the Minnesota Wild with a 5-1 win in Game 6 of their first-round series before a sellout crowd of 18,096 at Enterprise Center — loud and proud.
They took the series, four games to two, winning the last three games by a combined score of 15-5.
Jordan Binnington continued his late-season revival, improving to 8-1-0 since being pulled in an early-April loss in Edmonton. And 7-1-0 since switching to those dark pads.

Special teams and strong second periods have carried the Blues all season, and that was the case Thursday.
Despite taking a 1-0 lead, the Blues were outplayed in the first period. They were outshot 10-4 in the first 20 minutes and had trouble navigating the neutral zone against the tight-checking Wild.
But as has been the case basically all season, the Blues ruled the second period. During the regular season, the Blues had a plus-51 goal differential, easily a league high.

Well, they outscored the Wild 3-0 in the second period, and outshot them 21-5. And that was basically that.
 
#541      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
The scoresheet doesn’t always tell the story in hockey, particularly in the playoffs.
For the Blues, exhibit No. 10 on that topic would be alternate captain Brayden Schenn. The stat sheet showed the veteran forward with no goals and a modest two assists through the first five games of the Blues’ first-round playoff series with the Minnesota Wild.
But yet, he’s been one of the team’s most valuable players in the series.
“He’s been very valuable for me,” coach Craig Berube said. “I know you look at the scoresheet — again, there’s no goals. But his physicality and his hard play, that wears teams down. He does a good job of it. He’s a very physical player. He plays extremely hard. He does all the little things, and the goals will come.”

During the regular season, Schenn was one of nine Blues to score 20-plus goals, with 24. And largely because of cracked ribs that sidelined him early in the season, he did it in only 62 games — easily the lowest number of games played by any of the nine.
Schenn has always been the type of player who never backs down. He’s willing to drop the gloves when necessary and is never shy about contact.

“He does it all,” Tyler Bozak said. “He plays hard minutes against their best players. He puts his body on the line, finishes his checks, goes to the hard areas.
 
#542      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
For Blues fans, call it a case of sweet nostalgia.
Their leading scorers in the just-completed series against the Minnesota Wild? Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko — all members of the 2019 Stanley Cup championship team. Call them the Old Reliables.
All three players scored five goals in the Blues’ four games to two series win. That’s the first time in franchise history the Blues have had three players score at least five goals apiece in a playoff series.
And it’s only the 11th time in NHL history a team has had three players score at least five goals in a series. So it’s pretty rare, and once again speaks to the depth of the St. Louis offense.

For Perron and Tarasenko, their goals came in clusters. Perron had a hat trick in Game 1 and two goals in Game 4; Tarasenko had a hat trick in Game 5. O’Reilly’s goals were spread out — he had a goal in five of the six series games, including one in each of the last four contests.
“They’ve won. And they’ve been good players for a long time,” coach Craig Berube said. “They came through in this series for sure.
“But it’s not just those guys. They scored, and they did a lot of good things all-around. Again, you look at the scoresheet and they’re on it a lot. But you gotta look at a lot of the other guys, the little things that they do.
 
#543      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Ben Frederickson
Two coaches, two goalie changes, two drastically different outcomes.
Up in Minnesota, the call of the Wild will be questioned all offseason.
Did Minnesota coach Dean Evason blow it going to Cam Talbot over Marc Andre-Fleury in Game 6? Should he have started Talbot in the first place, and switched to the future Hall of Famer Fleury if Talbot struggled? Would sticking with Fleury for Game 6 have been the better bet than a late pivot to Talbot, who had not started a game in more than two weeks since going 13-0-3 over the span of his last 16 regular-season starts?
Meanwhile, here in St. Louis, it’s all hail the chief.

Blues coach Craig Berube didn’t let the Blues get backed into a corner before he made his goalie switch. He started the series with the hot hand in net, Ville Husso, but then pivoted to the embattled Stanley Cup champion, Jordan Binnington, who had shown encouraging signs as the regular season neared its end. The proactive call could not have played out better. The Blues have a second-round revenge date with the Colorado Avalanche in large part because of it.
“You have to make decisions,” Berube said after the Blues celebrated their Game 6 clinch at home. “Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are not. We all know we had two goalies who were capable of doing the job. We wanted to change momentum and make a switch.”
 
#544      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
The turning point came last Saturday, a week ago. It didn’t happen in a game, or even on the ice.
It started with a team meeting at Centene Community Ice Center, in which coach Craig Berube at his blunt best addressed the Blues about their shortcomings in Games 2 and 3 of their playoff series against the Minnesota Wild — losses in which the team was outscored by a combined 11-3. And about what needed to be done to turn the series.
Jordan Kyrou probably spoke for a lot of players when he said he came out of the meeting (ticked) off but adding that being (ticked) off was a good thing considering the circumstances.
That’s the Berube most fans know, and almost expect. It’s the image he projects across the hockey community in the U.S. and Canada.

Those words may have lit the spark. But then came the decisions leading into Game 4 last Sunday — some tough, some risky, some unorthodox. They underscored the most underrated part of Berube as a coach. Namely, his ability as a strategist and decision-maker, not just in-game but between games. The ability to have a pulse on the team and make adjustments when necessary.
So he switched from goalie Ville Husso, who wasn’t really playing badly, in favor of Jordan Binnington.
He changed all four forward lines, to the point where the top three lines employed in Game 4 were lines not seen in weeks or even months.
 
#545      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning stayed alive Thursday. So did the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins.
They showed great character by staving off elimination with Game 6 victories and forcing Game 7 showdowns.
But the Minnesota Wild’s ambitious season ended with a thud with their Game 6 collapse against the Blues. This was an ugly ending to what had been a spectacular season.
This was the Wild’s season to go for it, since costly buyouts to defenseman Ryan Suter and winger Zach Parise will create a years-long salary cap crunch starting next season.
General manager Bill Guerin took an “all in” approach to the season. He shipped in goaltending Marc-Andre Fleury, hoping to gain a postseason edge, and he fortified his defense.

But the Blues “found their game,” as coaches like to say. They got into high gear, overcame injuries on defense and sent the Wild packing with a blowout victory.
So the State of Hockey is in despair. The Wild still have a bright future with superstar Karill Kaprizov, cornerstone center Joel Eriksson Ek, defenseman Jared Spurgeon and young forwards Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi to build around.
But this playoff series was a big opportunity missed.
 
#546      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Jim Thomas
Like hockey fans all over North America, Craig Berube spent a lot of time in front of the television Saturday — after he finished Blues practice for the day, that is.
“A lot of good hockey today,” Berube said, following a quick 25-minute skate for the team at Centene Community Ice Center. “Big games. It’s pretty exciting, to be honest with you. I enjoy it.”
With three Games 7’s on Saturday’s schedule and two more on Sunday, the NHL has its most Game 7’s (five) in one round of the playoffs since 1992.
“Pretty tight, eh?” Berube said. “Lot of parity and a lot of good teams. And it’s hard to close teams out, you know? It really is. It’s a difficult thing to do.”

In closing out the Minnesota Wild in six games, the Blues were one of only three teams that needed fewer than the maximum to clinch a best-of-seven series. Their second-round opponent, Colorado, needed only four games to oust Nashville. In the Eastern Conference, Presidents’ Trophy winner Florida took down Washington in six games.
So they’re in the midst of some rare down time, which isn’t a bad thing this time of year.
“We’ll get some rest and get some guys that are banged up a little bit — they’ll get some rest,” Berube said. “We got a little skate in today. And then I think a little more rest is good. And then we’ll get after it.”
 
#547      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky


Jim Thomas
Regardless of the sport, most coaches are hesitant to mess with a winning lineup. Count Blues coach Craig Berube among that group.
So after winning three straight games with an 11-forward, seven-defensemen lineup to close out the Minnesota series, you can expect more of the same in Round 2 against the Colorado Avalanche.
Over the course of the season, there have been three factors in play in going 11/7. But only two of the three are in play at the moment.
A manpower shortage: Between Thanksgiving and the start of the New Year, the Blues had a rash of injuries and COVID issues at the forward position. They were tight against the salary cap to begin with, and there was added pressure because there was no cap relief granted this season when players ended up on the COVID list.

Over a 13-game stretch from Nov. 26 (vs. Chicago) through Dec. 29 (against Edmonton), the Blues played with fewer than 12 forwards in 10 games. On seven of those occasions, they went with 11 forwards/seven defensemen. Twice they went with 11 forwards/six defensemen (situations where they lacked extra D-men). And once they went 10 forwards/seven defensemen, with one of the D-men — Jake Walman — taking shifts at forward.
The injury situation eventually eased and with the relaxed COVID guidelines after the All-Star break, the Blues haven’t had a player on the COVID list in the New Year. Over the rest of the regular season, they went 11/7 only six more times, sprinkled out over four months.
 
#548      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Benjamin Hochman
In reference to this frightening force in mountainous Colorado, we decided to go straight to the source.
“Even an avalanche,” Mother Nature said, “isn’t as overwhelming as the Avalanche.”
The hockey team finished first in the Western Conference and had five players finish in the top-30 in points per game. The highest a Blues player finished was 31st.
This is not to knock St. Louis’ offense. Heck, the Blues scored 309 goals, the third-most in the National Hockey League — and one goal more than Colorado scored. But just like last postseason — and all these annual matchups with the Burgundy and Blue — the only way for St. Louis to win is to smother and stymie this avalanche of an offense.

Now, one encouraging thing is — it seems to annually happen this time this year.
Remember how World Series hero Reggie Jackson was “Mr. October,” while Dave Winfield was deemed “Mr. May”? Well, from a hockey standpoint, the longtime Avs are Mr. Octobers.
In the previous four years, Colorado finished first, second, fifth and fourth in the division. Not once did the Avs advance to even the conference final.
But this could be their May if the Blues can’t replicate their play from the Minnesota series.
 
#550      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky

Tuesday, Game 1: at Colorado, 8:30 p.m., TNT
Thursday, Game 2: at Colorado, 8:30 p.m., TNT

Saturday, Game 3: at Blues, 7 p.m., TNT

Mon. May 23, Game 4: at Blues, 8:30 p.m., TNT
(*) Wed. May 25, Game 5: at Colorado, TBA
(*) Fri. May 27, Game 6: at Blues, TBA
(*) Sun. May 29, Game 7: at Colorado, TBA
(*) – If necessary