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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:38 am 
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Beyond the fact that they scored only three goals in losing the first three games of their series against the St. Louis Blues, the Minnesota Wild should be concerned about another statistic as they prepare for Game 4 on Wednesday night.

The Blues built that 3-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series without getting any goals from their leading scorer, right winger Vladimir Tarasenko.

Tarasenko had 39 goals in the regular season, and only five times did he play more than three consecutive games without scoring a goal.

There has been something more important to Tarasenko in this series than his lack of goals, however.

"Vladi has played unbelievably," St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said. "For me, what I love, what I respect, is he's wanted to take a step as a leader. You look at, obviously, the play that he made on the OT winner in Game 1, but go back and watch his first shift in Game 2 and the backcheck that he has. He's doing all the little things, he's still getting involved.

"He's a competitor, and we need him to score at some point. So, we believe that if we continue to do the right things, and he continues to do the right things, that he'll break out at some point here."

The Blues have only four goals from their forwards in the series, including one into an empty net, and three by their defensemen. Tarasenko has played a role by contributing two assists.

As long as the Blues win, whether he scored a goal or not doesn't matter to Tarasenko at this time of the year.

"I say this many times, if you score like five goals a game and then you lose, it still feels like ... you know what you feel like," Tarasenko said. "It's really, really great feelings right now in the locker room ... and I enjoy my time right now."

Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for the Wild, who will need to find a way to get the puck past Blues goalie Jake Allen if they want to avoid being swept.

Allen has stopped 114 of 117 shots in the three games. One of their three goals came with an extra attacker after the Wild pulled goalie Devan Dubnyk in the closing seconds of Game 1, and another was on a five-on-three power play in Game 2. Their only even-strength goal came from Charlie Coyle in Game 3.

The Wild finished second in the NHL in the regular season with 266 goals.

"We've been saying it the last three games. It's kind of getting old obviously," Coyle said. "We've got to find a way to get pucks through. We need more traffic, get inside their D men. We've got to find ways to score whatever it is. It's now or never. Pretty tired of talking about it, we've just got to go out and prove it."

One thing the Wild apparently will try in an attempt to generate more offense in Game 4 is changing their forward lines. In practice Tuesday in Minnesota, coach Bruce Boudreau split up Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu for the first time this season. Granlund moved to Eric Staal's line with Coyle, while Koivu was working with Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter.

"You don't have to look any further than the amount of goals that we've scored," Parise told NHL.com. "We've got to try something different."
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The Blues will have a chance to clinch their Western Conference quarterfinal series against Minnesota in sweeping fashion Wednesday at Scottrade Center, and with that will come great pressure.

How will Mike Yeo’s club handle it?

“I don’t know,” Yeo admitted. “It’s a new experience for all of us.”


Game 4 will be the first time in 16 years the Blues are in position to sweep a playoff opponent; the last was in the 2001 conference semifinals against Dallas, and they in fact dusted off the Stars.

More recently, the Blues have played in five postseason games in which they had the potential to clinch and have not fared well. They went 2-3 in last year’s run, which ended with a loss to San Jose in the conference finals.

In the first round, the Blues had Chicago pinned against the boards, leading the series 3-1, but let the Blackhawks slip loose for back-to-back wins that forced a Game 7. They eventually won the decisive game on Troy Brouwer’s third-period goal and advanced.

Then in the second round, the Blues had Dallas down 3-2 and blew another chance, sending them on the road for another Game 7. They prevailed in that one too, setting the stage with San Jose in a series that was won in six games by the Sharks.

“We lacked that killer instinct,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “That game against Chicago last year, it took until the third period with what ... eight minutes left to get the goal? It’s never over until it’s over, I guess. We’ve learned to just keep pushing regardless of the situation.”

This is Yeo’s first season behind the Blues’ bench, but he is aware of the team’s struggles in these situations. In fact, he was Minnesota coach in 2015 when a series between the clubs was tied 2-2 and the Wild won the last two. Before that, in 2014, the Blues were ahead 2-0 against Chicago and lost in four straight, and in 2013, they were up 2-0 on Los Angeles and dropped four in a row.

Those weren’t clinching situations, but they were pressure-packed environments that the Blues didn’t handle well.

“In the past, I know that there was some regret as far as not closing series when you had a chance to here,” Yeo said. “I think it’s how you mature and how you grow as a group. I know we’ll talk about some of those things. For me, the biggest thing is, ‘Can we push aside the whole idea of finishing off the series and stay focused on playing a really strong game?’

“We just need to play well. We want to win the round and we want to advance and we want to keep competing here, but the reality is that’s not going to happen unless we play really well — focus on the things that we’ve done well. When you do those things, you give yourself a great chance.”

David Perron hasn’t been involved in the Blues’ last three playoff appearances. He was traded away after the loss to LA in 2013, but he says the message from Yeo has an alternate tone from previous years.

“Those are the kinds of sentences that are different than guys were used to hearing here before,” Perron said. “He’s all about the process and things like that.

“That’s why it’s seven games. I understand why this city for the last several years is always talking about (the Blues’ failure to clinch). But every team I’ve been on that went to the playoffs, it was like that. I think every team at one point had the trouble.

“If you go to Game 7s, it’s because you put yourself in that situation and you have a chance to win. So, I don’t think it’s any negative to be in those situations.”

But in this year’s case, the Blues would like to avoid a Game 7 if possible. A year ago, they played 14 games compared to 12 for San Jose before the teams met in the conference finals. The Sharks finished off their first-round opponent in five games, while the Blues made an extra trip to Chicago, and fatigue appeared to be a factor.

“It certainly adds up,” Pietrangelo said. “I think you look, we played two Game 7’s, it adds up. So if you can play three less games (this year) than we did last year in the first round, it’s obviously going to help. But that’s not going to be easy.”

That’s one thing the Blues have learned about series clinchers.

“They’re tough games,” defenseman Colton Parayko said. “The teams are kind of fighting to stay in and stay alive and it’s an opportunity for us to obviously advance, but it’s the same opportunity for them to stay alive and play the best game. It’s tough hockey for sure, but that’s what makes it so fun, when we can come together as a team and continue to push.

“They’ve got an unbelievable hockey team over there, they’ve got some great players, guys that can score goals, good defenders. It’s an opportunity for us to get better and we’ve got to keep getting better every game because as the series progresses ... it just keeps getting tighter.”

Added Yeo: “We still have a ton of respect for the team that we’re playing against. We know how close the games have been. We’re not trying to think about the next round or anything else right now. What we’re focusing on is to be at our best (Wednesday) and that’s all we can do right now. And obviously if you can do that, then you give yourself the best opportunity.”


This day in history:
2001 Bryce Salvador scores 1st playoff goal of his career in OT to defeat the Sharks 3-2 and take a 3-2 series lead.
2012 Martin Brodeur sets Stanley Cup record for shutouts at 24 making 26 saves in Devils 4-0 win over Panthers.
2014 Barret Jackman scores OT goal to defeat the Blackhawks 4-3 and give the Blues a 2-0 series lead. In the same game, Tarasenko scored the latest tying goal in Blues playoff history scoring on the power play with 6.4 seconds remaining in the 3rd period.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:04 am 
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It's very important that we don't suck.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:01 am 
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Time to put these forest-dwelling fucks in the ground

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:12 am 
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It should be noted Steen didn't skate before the last game, but still played, so who knows if Stastny is actually in or out. If it's a matter of "rushing" Stastny back a bit early, I'd rather see Steen in the lineup. There are 2 more full days off after this one, so taking the time to be closer to 100% is more important, IMO.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:19 am 
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theohall wrote:




It should be noted Steen didn't skate before the last game, but still played, so who knows if Stastny is actually in or out. If it's a matter of "rushing" Stastny back a bit early, I'd rather see Steen in the lineup. There are 2 more full days off after this one, so taking the time to be closer to 100% is more important, IMO.



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:38 pm 
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Hopefully, we win and he gets a week or so more to recover.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:17 pm 
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I'd agree back to back 7 game series' didn't help when it came time to play San Jose. Finish off Minny tonight because Nashville will be equally rested. Don't need to give them more of a break.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:16 pm 
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Good kill! Now let's tie up this game!

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:28 pm 
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Better push in the 2nd. Unfortunately, Jake Allen is human tonight.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:38 pm 
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Hope they can do something in the 3rd to slow the Wild's momentum. It felt like when that first wonky goal went in it wasn't going to be our night. :?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:24 pm 
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Well that sucked... :facepalm:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:09 pm 
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Jake Allen did not deserve that BS performance from the Offense. Guy stands on his head and that's the best you can do for him? :x

Can not allow the Wild to get back into this series.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:29 am 
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Oaklandblue wrote:
Jake Allen did not deserve that BS performance from the Offense. Guy stands on his head and that's the best you can do for him? :x

Can not allow the Wild to get back into this series.


Yet, this was the first time this series the Blues were even in shots on goal and had the Wild under 30 for the game. It was the first time this series the Blues were almost even (49%) with the Wild in face-offs and not trailing by 10% in that area. Outside of the 1st period, the Blues had better time of possession which they've never had in this series. Statistically, the Blues played better offensively in every area except the most important one - goals. And Dubynk deserves credit for being the better goalie tonight. It happens.

This is the one game where two mistakes by the Blues - one by Allen, one by the Blues backing in on a change - led to two goals against. Allen has covered those mistakes in the prior three games. Wouldn't be surprised if he does the same (cover the mistakes) in Minnesota on Saturday. The issue is can the Blues bring the pressure more consistently for 3 periods and not just when down 1 or 2 goals. The Wild did back off and look for turnovers about the halfway through the 2nd and converted one of them. They are like the Blues with a lead - get defensive and use turnovers to generate offense.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:08 am 
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theohall wrote:
Oaklandblue wrote:
Jake Allen did not deserve that BS performance from the Offense. Guy stands on his head and that's the best you can do for him? :x

Can not allow the Wild to get back into this series.


Yet, this was the first time this series the Blues were even in shots on goal and had the Wild under 30 for the game. It was the first time this series the Blues were almost even (49%) with the Wild in face-offs and not trailing by 10% in that area. Outside of the 1st period, the Blues had better time of possession which they've never had in this series. Statistically, the Blues played better offensively in every area except the most important one - goals. And Dubynk deserves credit for being the better goalie tonight. It happens.

This is the one game where two mistakes by the Blues - one by Allen, one by the Blues backing in on a change - led to two goals against. Allen has covered those mistakes in the prior three games. Wouldn't be surprised if he does the same (cover the mistakes) in Minnesota on Saturday. The issue is can the Blues bring the pressure more consistently for 3 periods and not just when down 1 or 2 goals. The Wild did back off and look for turnovers about the halfway through the 2nd and converted one of them. They are like the Blues with a lead - get defensive and use turnovers to generate offense.



Good points. But even if Allen makes that save, it's 1-0 and the Blues still lose on a .929 effort, so I'm not hanging Allen on that, the team needs to show a much better effort and score some goals.

Totally agree with you with the Blues needing to bring pressure consistently remark. That to me has been how we've been winning these games. The Wild have an extra gear if we let them roll and can easily make this series 3-3 if we don't shut them down now. Yeo needs to be all over this.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:33 am 
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It's hard to sweep but the odds are overwhelming that the Blues face the Predators in round 2. At this point I'm just hoping for a game 5 in my own series so I can go to one more game this year. Had to sell game 1 and the wife took game 2 so no playoff game this year for me if we get swept by Nashville tonight.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:43 pm 
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I was under the impression that Allen thought the first goal was going to be an icing and he and Bortuzzo got their wires crossed. Between booting guys out of the faceoff circle and the icing struggles, the zebras had a tough night. The refs didn't lose the Blues that game, but they certainly couldn't keep their fingerprints off of it.

I'm choosing to pretend that Minnesota won Game 1 and the Blues won the next three. That 3-1 lead feels better than the actual one, but it's 3-1 nonetheless.

Get 26 back and shake hands Saturday.

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