Blues Explode in Game 2, Fade In Game 3
COMMENTARY | | The St. Louis Blues made a strong comeback in Game 2 after an embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Wild in Game 1. The Blues have not been solid in the playoffs in years past, but are ever hopeful to win a playoff series.
Blues fans were in agony after two empty-net goals were scored by the Wild in Game 1, contributing to their team’s 4-2 loss. The Blues redeemed themselves to their fans in Game 2, winning 4-1. That redemption only lasted a short time before the Blues were bested in Game 3 by a score of 3-0.
Winning Strategy in Game 2
Blues’ head coach Ken Hitchcock had his boys on fire for Game 2; they hit the ice with something to prove to their fans and to themselves. They were able to outplay, outmaneuver and outscore to win the game and take back some of the pride that they lost during Game 1. The difference here was the determination and overall presence of the Blues players everywhere on the ice. The players were finishing checks, moving up in the zone and keeping their opponents from rushing rookie goaltender, Jake Allen.
Vladimir Tarasenko aided his team by getting his first ever hat trick. Jake Allen stopped all but one of the shots thrown his way. Ryan Reaves kept everyone on their toes when he was on the ice. The tenacious Jaden Schwartz did his best to keep the puck moving. The list goes on for Game 2. Every member of the St. Louis Blues team was focused solely on beating the Minnesota Wild. They came together as a cohesive team and worked toward a common goal and they won.
The momentum from Game 2 should have carried the Blues straight into Game 3. The Blues were riding on a high and had found the winning formula to beat the Wild and possibly win the series.
Game 3 Flop
There were high expectations for the Blues in Game 3. However, half way through the first period, it was clear to see that the Blues had not fully shown up for the game. The players were outplayed by the Wild. The Blues looked as they had in Game 1, not hungry enough to finish the check or chase the puck. It was a sad showing by the Blues, and the score reflected their inability to come together as a unit and put the puck in the net.
A good, solid goaltender can only get you so far in a hockey game and Jake Allen did all he could to keep the score close enough for the Blues to rally and make a come back. That is, until the empty-net goal that put the Wild up by 3 with only minutes left in the 3rd period. I get that pulling the goalie for the extra skater is common in regular season play and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, when it is playoff hockey, pulling the goalie in the final minutes of the game is not smart. The Wild did it in Game 2 and were burned with an empty-net goal. The Blues did it in Game 1 and 3 and were burned with 3 empty-net goals.
The Blues need to step it up and play like they did in Game 2. They were there both mentally and physically. They finished plays and made the Wild have to keep regrouping throughout the game. In Game 3 the Wild were able to completely dominate the Blues. The Blues have to be smarter and throw the Wild back off kilter if they have a hope of winning Game 4 and eventually the series.