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July 25 2017, 08:35 | Van Peters
St. Louis Blues' Ivan Barbashev (49) controls the puck over Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin (25) during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Friday, April 14, 2017, in St. Paul, Minn. Sure, the Blues were no lock to reach the postseason at that time-replacing the production of some key players that departed through free agency wouldn't be easy-but it was certainly conceivable that St. Louis would be a playoff team. The team is hoping to tie up the series with a win at home on Wednesday.
Just because the Blues played conservatively and patiently didn't mean they were always disciplined, though.
That goal came thanks to an accidental pass from an ex-teammate Kyle Brodziak on a two-man advantage and seemed to energize the Wild, who looked on edge to say the least.
"They were being more aggressive in our zone", Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said. Clog the middle of the ice. Keeping the Minnesota Wild forwards out of the crease was clearly a priority. Sobotka's shot changed directions on the way to the net after hitting the stick of Wild defenseman Christian Folin, and fooled Dubnyk for a 1-0 St. Louis lead at 6:21.
The last times the Blues went up 2-0 on the road, they swept those series - once in 2001 against the Dallas Stars and once in 1993 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Nearly any way you look at it, Jake Allen is playing the best hockey in the highest stakes of his professional career right now. "That didn't feel very good".
St. Louis hasn't exactly been burning up the scoresheet either, and much of the lack of offense for both teams comes down to the play of Jake Allen and Devan Dubnyk. It was a big game for Allen. "Obviously, he knows tomorrow will be a new one and that's one thing he's done well for a long time - he's re-set himself". Minnesota was the highest-scoring team in the Western Conference during the regular season. Henrik Lundqvist has made more saves and Pekka Rinne has a 100% save percentage. Both teams survived a penalty kill, and Wild left winger Erik Haula had the best scoring chance via a breakaway after a Blues turnover, but Allen thwarted the attempt with a glove save. He has the ability to steal games, but the Wild's relentless forecheck can take care of a lot of the work if Dubnyk is serviceable. All it will take is one big first period by the Blues at the Xcel Energy Center to take the crowd out of the game and get the players second guessing what they are doing.
Game 2 is 8 p.m. Friday in Minnesota. The forward group has seven skaters standing six-feet-two-inches or taller, as well as five guys north of 215 pounds. See Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa, Chicago, Chicago and Chicago.
First, they'll need to best Jake Allen, who is by far the MVP of this series thus far. On Friday, he couldn't see the puck on either goal, so after two games, there are zero goals that I would hang on him, and he has still given up only two per game.
Neither did the harsh reality that Minnesota outshot the Blues 42-17 from the halfway mark of the first period. By all logic and reason, the Blues shouldn't have won Game 1-and they did it anyway.