Cleat Geeks

Blues Fall to Wild in Game 1

St. Louis Blues VS. Minnesota Wild (Wild Lead Series 1-0)

St. Louis rarely got anything going in this one, finding their game far too late in the game. Most of the night Minnesota used speed, finnese and discipline to outmatch a Blues team that looked flat and without a sense of urgency until it was all but too late. St. Louis will need to regain their confidence and play the game their known for if they hope to even the series at one a piece, before heading back to Minnesota. Keys for St. Louis will be their effective game of pushing the puck in deep, consistency on the forecheck, and cycling of the puck in their offensive zone; all of which were rarely seen last night. For Minnesota, this was the first time in 8 Playoff apprearances they were able to win in game 1. While Minnesota broke their cycle of play in game 1, Blues fans did the same over the past previous seasons, and may hold some semblance in the fact that they don’t have a chance to go up 2-0 in a first round series (fans of the Blues know this sentiment very well). Breakdowns of each period are below.

STL VS MIN STATS BREAKDOWN

St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild Game Stats Period Breakdown

 

1st Period

Minnesota began with their fast paced transitional offense, feeding off of errors from St. Louis that allowed the Wild chances into their offensive zone. At 2:47, Minnesota capitalized off one of these errors with a 3-1 odd man rush. Rushing into Minnesota’s offensive zone, Justin Fontaine passed to Jason Zucker who put a shot on Jake Allen, forcing an untimely rebound. The rebound came right back to Zucker, who used his speed to wrap around the first goal of the game on a stiff Allen that had no idea the goal was already in before he was even able to flinch.

On the other side in the Blues offensive zone, St. Louis was able to pressure Minnesota throughout, but couldn’t sustain in-close pressure. Minnesota spent most of the 1st, forcing the Blues to take their chances on the blue line. The Blues defensive pairings found it difficult to find any open lanes toward the net. As Minnesota boxed out St. Louis, the Blues failed to change their scheme and tirelessly forced shots that weren’t there.

2nd Period

This period saw the ice open up a lot more. Minnesota’s speed grinded down St. Louis further backward as the Blues still failed to find their game. Minnesota held firm throughout, refusing to back down when St. Louis tried changing the style of play to a more physical one. Because of this, the Blues spent most of the period on defense. At 2:30, Paul Stastny was called for a hooking minor on Charlie Coyle. Minnesota cashed in on the penalty with a goal by Minnesota’s Matt Dumba (Assists: Jared Spurgeon / Nino Niederreiter) at 4:10 with a shot from the point. By the end of the period, St. Louis was venting their frustration while still trying to find identity to their game.

3rd Period

The 3rd Period saw St. Louis looking to gain some ground. The Blues were finally able to gain some positive pressure, though still found it difficult to get in close on Dubnyk. Minnesota would continue to counter with some chances of their own in the Blues defensive zone.

There was little strategic change on both sides, though St. Louis started to become more effective, as they funneled pucks to the blue line, while the forwards continued trying to screen Dubnyk in hopes of redirecting one in. The Blues consistency finally paid off at 7:12, as Jaden Schwartz redirected a shot from Kevin Shattenkirk as he received a pass from Patrik Berglund at the point.

At 9:19, still down 2-1, the Blues were given an opportunity to tie the game from a holding call on Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter. Unfortunately for the Blues, they were unable to get anything going. The Power Play concluded with another odd man rush by the Wild’s Zach Parise, who was able to pick up the loose puck. St. Louis was able to get back and break up the play, and thus the period continued.

The last three minutes were quite eventful. Minnesota did a great job at playing keep away from the Blues, but St. Louis would find themselves with some time in their own offensive zone as they pulled Allen in hopes of adding pressure and finding the back of the net. The move proved costly, as the game would all but be put to an end. At 18:47, Mikael Granlund would take a pass from Zach Parise and find the empty net, extending their lead 3-1.

The Blues would further make things worse on themselves with just over a minute to go when David Backes, out of frustration, would get called on a cross checking minor, followed up by a 10 minute major misconduct by Steve Ott. The Blues would counter one last time as they were able to find some pressure and execute a shorthanded goal on a wrister from Alexander Steen (Assists: Vladamir Tarasenko / Kevin Shattenkirk) who picked the puck up off of a deflected shot from Tarasenko. Down 3-2 with less than a minute to go, the Blues would once again pull Allen, only to suffer the same fate, as Jason Pominville (Assist: Zach Parise) would put it into the twine for Minnesota’s second empty net goal. Ultimately, Minnesota showed too much speed and disciplined positioning, ending St. Louis’s hopes of a comeback.

ST. LOUIS BLUES PLAYER STATS

St. Louis Blues Player Stats Breakdown

 

MINNESOTA PLAYER STATS

Minnesota Wild Player Stats Breakdown

 

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