Game #3 Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues 5/6/22 @ 8:30PM CST at Enterprise Center

Series is tied at 1-1

Minnesota Wild

3.00 Goals For Per Game (9th in the NHL)

3.00 Goals Against Per Game (10th in the NHL)

22.2% Power Play (7th in the NHL)

72.7% Penalty Kill (13th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 3G 0A = 3pts

2. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 2G 1A = 3pts

3. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 0G 2A = 2pts

4. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 0G 2A = 2pts

5. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 0G 2A = 2pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 14 PIM’s

2. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 8 PIM’s

3. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 6 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot N/A

2. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (1-1)  3.00GAA  .908%

 

Vs.

 

St. Louis Blues

3.00 Goals For Per Game (8th in the NHL)

3.00 Goals Against Per Game (9th in the NHL)

27.3% Power Play (4th in the NHL)

77.8% Penalty Kill (11th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #57 David Perron ~ 3G 1A = 4pts

2. #47 Torey Krug ~ 0G 3A = 3pts

3. #90 Ryan O’Reilly ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

4. #91 Vladimir Tarasenko ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

5. #18 Robert Thomas ~ 0G 2A = 2pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #72 Justin Faulk ~ 6 PIM’s

2. #57 David Perron ~ 4 PIM’s

3. #55 Colton Parayko ~ 4 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #35 Ville Husso (1-1)  2.52GAA  .922%  1SO

2. #50 Jordan Binnington N/A

Lines:

St. Louis Blues

Buchnevich~Thomas~Tarasenko

Saad~R. O’Reilly~Perron

Barbashev~Bozak~Kyrou

Toropchenko~L. Brown~Walker

Krug~Parayko

Leddy~Faulk

Mikkola~Bortuzzo

Husso

Binnington

Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov~Hartman~Zuccarello

Fiala~F. Gaudreau~Boldy

Greenway~Eriksson Ek~M. Foligno

Bjugstad~Jost~Duhaime

Brodin~Dumba

Middleton~Spurgeon

Merrill~Goligoski

M-A. Fleury

Talbot

Game & TV Schedule

Game #3: May 6th, (Away) 8:30PM CST Bally North, TNT

Game #4: May 8th, (Away) 3:30PM CST Bally North, TBS

Game #5: May 10th, (Home) 8:30PM CST TBD**

Game #6: May 12th, (Away) TBD**

Game #7: May 14th, (Home) TBD**

** – If necessary

 

I believe we all breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday night. To keep myself grounded I keep goal celebrations pretty lowkey, but of course as the game progressed a little more excitement was shown. I don’t think that excitement was shown until the game was 4-0 Minnesota. But considering this is a Minnesota sports franchise, and things can so easily go wrong when they appear to be going right, this temperance is often appropriate. Trust me, that 4-2 score made me nervous, but at least this time, the Minnesota Wild gave me something to be excited about.

However with all the excitement of Wednesday night has to remain in the past. The Wild cannot afford to focus on that excitement and must fully concentrate on tonight’s game. Especially since they will not be within the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center. The fans at Enterprise Center definitely let you know that they are there, but it would be nice if the Wild can figure out a way to silence the Blues faithful. In fact, if they can do that early, much like they did Wednesday night, they just may pull a win out of their hat.

And speaking of hats, it was nice to finally see a Minnesota hat trick in the playoffs. It would have been nice if that honor had gone to Joel Eriksson Ek, but with Marcus Foligno being offsides it had to be called back. Eriksson Ek has certainly been one of those players who has put in his dues. I’ve not been his biggest fan over the years, but I will never turn down a post-season hat trick. While the honor didn’t go to Eriksson Ek, I suppose it should come as no surprise that this feat would go to Kirill Kaprizov. However while Kaprizov’s hat trick was exciting, let us not forget that Minnesota gave up a hat trick in Game #1 by David Perron.

If there was a lesson to be learned in the first two games, it is simply stay out of the penalty box. We have been saying this all season, but it is ever so much more important in the playoffs. Half of the goals in Game 1 were powerplay goals, and both were scored by Perron. And then in Game #2, Minnesota again gave up a powerplay goal by Jordan Kyrou. But then some of you may come back with the fact that two of Minnesota’s six goals Wednesday night were scored on the powerplay. Yes that’s true, but you cannot argue that the Blues have the better special teams than Minnesota. The Wild just cannot afford to take penalties like they do.

I don’t know about you, but one thing I’m not liking about this year’s playoffs is the bit of controversy that is brewing. Considering the constant goalie rotation since the acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury, many of us are feeling a bit confused why he’s suddenly the #1 goalie. Yes, he has lots of playoff experience including three Stanley Cup win, but I can’t say in the first two games he’s looked like that goaltender. He’s older now and doesn’t have the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of him, so it just seems odd. Based on stats alone this season, Cam Talbot has better numbers than Fleury, and he’s been with this team for longer than just the trade deadline. For a team that has always been overly loyal when they shouldn’t be, this is a new feeling.

If there’s anything this season’s playoffs have proven, is that the officials have come to play as well. In Wednesday night’s game, they called fourteen penalties, eight of them on Minnesota. On Monday night, it was nineteen, which of course is skewed because of the three penalties assessed at the same time to Foligno in the third period. I believe it was Calgary head coach Darryl Sutter who said due to watching the Wild-Blues game on Monday night to his team “they’re calling everything.” And looking at the boxscore from last night, Sutter discovered that firsthand. I think we’ve all become so accustomed to the officials putting their whistles away during the playoffs, so this is a new feeling for everyone.

While the officials have been whistle-happy so far in the playoffs, scoring seems to be a major feature this. In the vast majority of the games, the winner has scored four or more goals. With scoring to prevalent, there have only been four shutouts on the four nights of games. I can only speak on the shutout by the Blues on Monday night, but that accomplishment was a combination of Ville Husso doing his job, the Blues shutting down every attempt, and the Wild simply being the Wild. Game-to-game, I don’t think anyone knows what you’re going to see, and to a degree makes for a far more exciting playoffs this year. I’ll take that, but at the same time, I don’t need painful surprises either.

If there was one thing working slightly in Minnesota’s favor, it’s that the Blues are dealing with some roster issues. It sounds as if they will still be without defensemen Nick Leddy and Marco Scandella. While I don’t feel bad for the Blues one bit, being down two of their regular defensemen can throw things a bit out of alignment. With their still possible absences, the Blues have called up Steve Santini. I don’t know about you, but this is possibly a good thing. Well as long as Santini doesn’t have an epic call up like Minnesota’s Matt Boldy has had this season.

While the post-season bring about its own excitement, like I said, I’m keeping things pretty low key. Until this team can put out a good showing and get out of the first round, just making the playoffs is not the accomplishment that some make it out to be. Enjoy the extra games, but keep your expectations in check. Trust me, it keeps the potential disappointment less surprising.