The St. Louis Blues have momentum on their side after two wins. A third might take the spirit of their opponent
When the St. Louis Blues won Game 3 of their opening round series with the Vancouver Canucks, fans could at least say we are in business. When the team won Game 4, we finally saw the Blues play their style of game.
It was fun to watch because, even when the score was tight, you felt like the Blues had really grabbed control of the game. Sure, a bad bounce could have gone against them, but you did not have that fear of a loss as much as the other games.
Now, St. Louis has the opportunity to give the fans, and themselves, that feeling in regards to the series. One more win in Game 5 would not end the series, but it would take the spirit from the Canucks.
Vancouver is going to be a team to be dealt with in the near future. They might be one of the most talented teams north of the border and just need a few extra tweaks to get over the hump.
Based on the last two games, however, they are not quite ready for playoff hockey. That is not to say they might not pull up their britches and find a way to beat the Blues in this series. It is to say that they are not built to take the pounding of playoff hockey just yet.
The Blues could really send that message if they can take the victory in Game 5. A win is all that is needed too.
St. Louis does not need to dominate the scoreline. At this point, it does not matter if Vancouver can say they’ve been close in every game, as long as the Blues win.
The Canucks are flinching with every opportunity the Blues take to hit them. Even if the Vancouver players manage to spin out of the checks, it is in the back of their mind and taking away their ability to make smart passes.
One more Blues win would signal that this one is done.
The one negative about the bubble is that we don’t get as much information as normal. Until the pregame skate, we don’t have much to go on for the roster.
If Steen is banged up, it would seem to make sense to hold him out while the Blues have momentum with their current lineup. You can always put him back in if there is a hiccup.
Barbashev would be the most likely change, if there is one. He took to the ice for practice yesterday, but his return will be based more on conditioning than anything.
It is hard to imagine he did much skating while being in St. Louis for the birth of his first child, so the Blues might want to ease him back in. Or, they might just throw him into the fire. We will see.
Last, but not least, is the goaltending situation. Most Blues fans trust the coaching staff, so if they made the decision to go back to Jordan Binnington, few would oppose it. That said, it is hard to imagine Jake Allen not starting his third game in a row after stopping 61 of 64 shots so far.
Where/When to watch/listen
Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Go, NBCSN
101 ESPN, NHL App
The game will start at the dreaded 9:30 CST for the third game in a row. Get those naps in because this seems to be the likely time for all the remaining games in this series, unless some other series end prior to the Blues/Canucks.
St. Louis has to find a way to stay out of the box. It is great that the penalty kill was 100% effective in the last game, but you cannot give Vancouver seven power plays.
If St. Louis can keep things clean and get to their game early in the contest, they are going to take the will of their opponent. They are already at that point and just need to reach the critical tipping point.
If Vancouver gets an early goal, it might be game on. The Canucks just need a boost after a disappointing Game 4.
Still, it is hard to imagine a battle-tested Blues team letting this slip away. I’ll say St. Louis wins this one 4-2.