The Blues are capable of playing lots of hockey in the offensive zone in these playoffs, but against both Minnesota and Nashville, they’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the defensive zone, leading to most of the goals Jake Allen has allowed.
Game three was more of that, with Nashville spending an amazing 1:24 consecutively in the offensive zone in the third period before Roman Josi scored an insurance goal to make it 3-1, which was the final.
From the mid-point of the first period on, Nashville dominated. Blues coach Mike Yeo admitted that “They took their game to another level, and we didn’t match it.”
As has happened with the personality of the Blues in the past, assumptions were made on their part about what they had done previously.
Yeo said, “I felt that we came into this game looking like we felt really good about what happened in game two, and just assumed that things were going to carry on from there, and obviously, that wasn’t the case.”
In game four, the Blues need to, as their coach says, be on the hunt.
They need to take the game to the Predators. All the Blues need to do is win game four, and that’ll set up a best of three series with the Blues holding home ice advantage. It’s that simple.
Other notes from game three:
· Hey social media, let’s pump the brakes on blasting NBC’s Kenny Albert and Pierre McGuire’s feelings about the Blues. If the Blues had outshot the Preds 29-18 in the first two periods and 18-4 in the second, the broadcasters would have been raving about St. Louis. When one team dominates the other, it’s stupid for national broadcasters to talk about how great the team being dominated is. That isn’t a local broadcast.
The fact of the matter is, the Blues didn’t give those guys much good to say about them. I understand if the Blues are as good as or better and they get the short end of the stick. But in this game, Albert and McGuire were correct to compliment the Predators.
· I’m not seeing much of David Perron and Patrik Berglund. Perron had two shots on goal in 12:41 of ice time. Berglund had 14:39 played, one shot and one hit. The second biggest forward on the team had one hit, and went 2-13 in the faceoff circle. The Big Swede needs to be better than that. He needs to play to his size.
· Speaking of the faceoff dot, Nashville dominated again, winning 39 of 63 for a 62% success rate. Obviously, if Berglund wins just four more to go six-and-seven, the Blues win 28. But they need to get Vladimir Sobotka to take more than three faceoffs. If Sobotka and Paul Stastny are on the same line, that’s your two best faceoff guys. It might make sense for Yeo to put Sobotka on left wing with Berglund and Perron, if they stay in the lineup.
· I’d like to see both Magnus Paajarvi and Zach Sanford in game four. If that means Perron and Scotty Upshall need to sit, that’s OK. Upshall hurt himself trying to deliver a check in game three, and might be banged up. It’s probably a good time to get him a day off.
· Vladimir Tarasenko had three shots on goal, three blocked shots, three missed shots, three hits and two blocked shots. At both ends of the ice, his effort has been impressive. He isn’t even close to the reason the Blues lost game three.
· In addition to scoring two goals, the Predator defense was incredibly active. P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis combined for two goals, four points and ten of the fifteen blocked shots Nashville had. When Yeo talks about hunting, the Blues forwards have to get them on their heels, get the puck deep, and keep them in their defensive zone.
· The Blues are now 3-and-1 on the road in these playoffs. There’s no reason to think they can’t win game four and even up the series. They have the talent to do so. Fortunately for Yeo’s team, it’s up to them.