The Blues stole a win in Game 1 against the Wild. The idea of “stealing” a win is thrown around pretty often in the sporting world, but the Game 1 victory might be the best recent example where a team was completely overwhelmed and bested and yet still walked away with a win.
Jake Allen was the best player on the ice between the two teams, but if we’re discussing positives, that’s really where the conversation should end for the Blues. Yes, Joel Edmundson had a huge goal and Vladimir Sobotka scoring nearly gave the Blues a regulation win, but even those two moments might have been the product of luck as opposed to strong play.
Edmundson was in the right place at the right time and collected a whiffed Vladimir Tarasenko attempt. Sobotka’s goal was due to a fortunate deflection. Meanwhile, the Wild peppered Allen with shot after shot after shot and yet he kept just about every single one out. These weren’t just shots from harmless areas either. These shots were coming in from quality positions which usually light the lamp.
The Wild had a total of 74 total shot attempts in regulation. That’s an insane statistic, but if you watched the game, you might agree that it felt like a lot more than 74 attempts. The Wild spent huge chunks of time in the St. Louis zone and had easily four or five chances that go in more times than they don’t. They controlled the entire flow and pace of the game, hemming the Blues deep in their zone while completely locking out their own zone whenever the Blues tried to enter. The game struck a familiar pace in which the Blues weathered a four or five shot barrage, collected the puck, moved up to the red line, dumped it in and then saw the Wild bring it the other way. Repeat.
If the scene that unfolded looks familiar, it’s because the Blues have been on the other side of the coin fairly regularly over the past few years. The Blues would outshoot a team and look dominant only to fall just short. This time, the Blues looked like the inferior team (correction – were the unfamiliar team) and yet here we are looking at a 1-0 series lead.
Long story short, the Blues have to be better. They picked up an ugly, ugly win but those kinds of victories usually don’t pop up too often. The Blues are going to have to figure out how to play better and how to limit Minnesota’s chances. Allen stopped 51 of 52 shots, but he can’t be called on to do that repeatedly in this series.