Snap shots on the Blues’ dreadful 6-3 loss to Winnipeg in Game 3 …
1. The Blues came home with a 2-0 series lead, only to play their worst game in weeks. Losing this game wasn’t part of the plan, obviously. The real problem is the Blues had no plan — and certainly no response — to deal with Winnipeg’s ravenous compete level. The Jets played with a furious passion. The flat-footed Blues were taken aback by Winnipeg’s fiery tenacity. I can’t believe this team was unprepared — then shocked — by Winnipeg’s extreme hunger to win this game. But that’s what happened, and I don’t know why. After pulling out a pair of one-goal victories at Winnipeg — both games could have gone either way — the Blues had absolutely no reason to allow even a whiff of complacency to creep in heading into Game 3.
2. From an overview perspective of this series, losing Game 3 did not set off a crisis for the Blues. Winnipeg is an explosive team a ton of skill, and at some point the Jets would quit running around haphazardly, trying to deliver hits on the Blues, and put up a brilliant all-around performance. Threatened by the risk of falling into a hopeless position — going down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series — the Jets summoned their best.
3. And that is what you’d expect from a good Winnipeg team that made it to the Western Conference finals last season. The Jets’ postseason experience was a factor in Game 3. They assessed where they needed to get to in adjusting their attitude, competitiveness, and overall mindset. The Jets found that higher level. The Blues evidently thought that winning Game 3 was automatic just because they came home to Enterprise Center.
4. Losing Game 3 only matters if the Blues lose Game 4. If the Blues had won Game 3, then lost the fourth game, there would be little if any anxiety in Bluesville. But when the home team doesn’t show up, it’s startling. A hard-fought 3-2 loss to the Jets in Game 3 wouldn’t cause any widespread nervousness. But this bizarre no-show by the Blues brought back some unpleasant memories from earlier this season. And that’s understandable. But the Blues just have to get back to their roots … to what they do best … to the style and approach that produced the most points and second-best winning percentage by an NHL team from Jan. 3 until the end of the regular season.
5. Win Game 4, and the Blues go back to Manitoba with a 3-1 lead in the series — and in control of the series. A 3-1 lead turns this into a best-of-three affair, with the Blues needing to win one game to advance… and Winnipeg needing to sweep three consecutive games to survive.
6. But if the Blues flop again in Game 4, they’ve lost control of the series… it doesn’t mean they will lose the series … but a defeat in Game 4 means that the Blues have frittered away the tremendous advantage gained by winning the first two games at Winnipeg. And if the Blues lose Game 4, intense feelings of doubt would invade the minds of the players. That’s not good.
7. Then again, maybe the Blues need to be the more desperate team. And maybe the embarrassment of Game 3 will restart — and crank up — the intense fire we saw from the visitors from St. Louis in the first two games of the series. Maybe it adds extra motivation to get routed at home. And make no mistake The Note was blown away, getting outscored 5-1 at even strength. And at even strength the Jets had a 53 percent share of the overall shots, and a 67 percent share of high-danger scoring chances.
8. The Blues need more from their top line of Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. And I’m not talking about effort, which is fine. But I’m referring to the results. The No. 1 line was outscored 2-0 at 5-on-5 play in Game 3.
8a. Side note: Twitter is funny, and predictable. Visitors to the interweb are funny and predictable. The usual colony of mindless, lazy idiots are sniping at Tarasenko again. Same as it ever way. When in doubt, show the world how stupid you are by blaming everything on No. 91. One of these years, these trolls will come up with an original thought. Until then, I appreciate the entertainment.
8b. Winnipeg’s top line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler was excellent, with a 57.1 Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5 play.
9. Based on data at Natural Stat Trick, the Blues’ best line in Game 3 was the combination of David Perron, Oskar Sundqvist and Jaden Schwartz; in 9:31 of 5-on-5 play the trio had a Corsi For percentage of 58.3 … and on a relative basis were 11.4 percent better than their teammates. The worst line, by far, was Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas … with a Corsi For of 25 percent. And that group was outstanding in the first two games at WPG. And the defensive pairing of Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester was uncharacteristically bad…
9a. There was no passion lacking in young Blues center Ivan Barbashev, who rammed into Jets for 10 official hits … though it must be said that, in general, the Blues repeated the mistake made by Winnipeg in Game 1 (and to a lesser extent, Game 2) in this series. Namely: too much running around, trying to make hits just to make hits. When the Blues are good, their discipline is a leading factor in the success.
10. If you’re in the minority as one of the people blaming Jordan Binnington for the Game 3 debacle … or if you’re among the folks topenly speculating that it might be best to go with Jake Allen in Game 4, here’s my request: Hush, please …. Shhhh … just head to the fainting couch, use the “Calm” app to meditate and your brain will recover in no time.
Thanks for reading …