The Blues skate into Game 2 with a 1-0 series lead over their hosts from Minnesota which means Wednesday night is critical for the Wild if they want to escape with a split.
Let’s analyze this Central Division playoff clash and continue to cash our NHL picks.
St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild
Wednesday, May 04, 2022 – 09:30 PM EDT at Xcel Energy Center
The Blues continued their dominance over their divisional foes on Monday night when they claimed a 4-0 victory over the Wild and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven game series.
Who Notched a Hat Trick
Minnesota had no answer for the riddle that was David Perron who notched a hat trick in the game, sending the hometown fans to the exits early.
Perron connected on two power-play opportunities and tallied his third goal of the evening in the final frame while Ryan O'Reilly chipped in with a first-period goal of his own.
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Despite getting outshot, 37-31, the Blues were able to triumph based in large part on the stellar play of goaltender Ville Husso who turned aside every shot he faced en route to the shutout and copped the No. 2 Star of the game behind Perron.
“It’s been a long way coming,” said Perron, who's on his third tour with the Blues. “I have a lot of pride wearing the Blue note.”
But Minnesota’s coach, Dean Evason, was not demoralized by the shutout loss and stated after the game, “I thought we did a good job on their high-end guys, too.
We concentrate on trying to do that against everybody. Their process was to get as many people on and around (Kaprizov) as they could. They did a good job on our guys, but we still had some good looks.”
Who Will Be the Goalie
And now we have to consider the goaltending matchups on both sides. The Blues decided to give Ville Husso the starting assignment over Jordan Binnington, who carried St. Louis to a Stanley Cup as a rookie back in 2019.
It was a wise choice for a team that had platooned both goalies throughout much of the season.
Yet, Husso’s stats were better than Binnington’s and whatever post-season experience he lacked did not deter St. Louis coach, Craig Berube, from giving him the nod.
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On the other hand, Minnesota acquired big-money goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, for the express purpose of coming up big when it matters – in the playoffs.
However, in playing MAF the Wild had to sit their All-Star goalie, Cam Talbot, who went 13-0-3 down the stretch and posted a 32-12-4 record during the regular season.
Whether they will shift gears and go with Talbot in Game 2 remains to be seen.
Which Team Do You Want To Bet On?
St. Louis has had unprecedented success against Minnesota, winning 10 of their last 11 meetings, including Monday night’s 4-0 victory.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Blues are in such an enviable position as they enter Game 2, having removed home-ice advantage from their hosts with the win on Monday night, is the special teams’ matchups.
In Which Position Is St. Louis
St. Louis was ranked No. 2 on the power play at the end of the regular season while Minnesota’s penalty-killing unit checked in at No. 25, extinguishing only 76.1 percent of its man-down situations.
And on the flip side, we see that the Blues' penalty-killing unit was ranked 5th (84.1%) versus the Wild’s 18th ranked power play (20.5%). Despite evidence to the contrary, I like the Wild to even the series on Wednesday night.
They outshot the Blues in Game 1 and I suspect we will see a much better performance from their young superstar, Kirill Kaprizov, who posted impressive numbers (47-61-108) numbers during the regular season.
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Minnesota will be forcing the pace and tempo in this one and they have plenty of offensive weapons to get the job done. This feels like a 3-1 Wild victory so we will also go low in this one as well.
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