Over the course of 82 regular-season games this season, the St. Louis Blues established themselves as a very difficult hockey team to beat. What they’ve yet to establish themselves as, though, is a team with the ability to do some serious damage in the playoffs. And after Game 1 of their first-round series against Minnesota Thursday ended in a 4-2 win for the Wild, they’ve still got a lot left to prove in order to be taken seriously at this time of year.
In a game that will not be remembered as one of the most entertaining playoff matchups in NHL history, the Blues managed to get just 21 shots – including only four in the second period – on Minnesota ace Devan Dubnyk, who let in two of them for a paltry (for him, anyway) .905 save percentage on the night. But despite pressing numerous times during the first period, St. Louis didn’t register its first goal until 7:12 of the third frame on Jaden Schwartz’s goal. By that stage of the game, they were already down 2-0 thanks to rookie Matt Dumba’s second period power play goal and Jason Zucker’s first-period marker – and after Schwartz’s goal, there was no difference-maker who stepped up for the Blues to tie it late and force overtime. (Sure, Alex Steen scored with 59 seconds left in regulation, but his goal came 14 seconds after Mikael Granlund scored an empty-net goal to make it 3-1 Wild; Minnesota promptly scored another empty-netter – this one, from Jason Pominville – to ice the victory for the visitors and erase St. Louis’ home ice advantage.)
Following Granlund’s goal, the sounds of discontent could be heard in pockets of Scottrade Center, and who could blame Blues fans for the now-familiar sense of unease? Read more