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Wild at Blues preview: Reset

The Blues could use a more inspired performance tonight against the Wild.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: this should’ve published four hours ago. I have no clue what happened aside from I messed up somewhere. Apologies.

I’m going to be honest: I ordered a cup of coffee at a sports bar last night while I was watching the game against the Predators. It reminded me too much of the playoff series against them - smothering defense on their part, an inability to break through on the Blues’. I was frustrated for Carter Hutton, who put in a stellar performance.

I didn’t go into that game expecting the Blues to blow the roof off of Scottrade, let’s put it that way.

Tonight against the Minnesota Wild, I at least expect a goal.

The Wild sit in the first Wild Card spot and fourth in the Central Division - which is the only division in hockey with every team above the .500 mark. It won’t be an easy game. It certainly won’t be an easy game if the team continues to muck up on on power play. Last night they had two shots over the course of three chances with the extra man. Overall, the Blues are an abysmal 27th in the league, with a 16% success rate. That they are still sitting atop the Western Conference while their special teams are a mess (the penalty kill is 20th, at 78.6%) is a minor miracle and proof of how good the team is even strength. Perhaps tonight’s gameplan should be to decline power plays. The Wild, on the other hand, are in the league’s top ten in both their penalty kill (3rd) and power play (9th).

The Blues haven’t lost the second game of a back to back yet this season.

As a bit of an offensive boost, recalled forward Samuel Blais will be in the lineup tonight, taking Magnus Paajarvi’s spot on the third line. Blais played well offensively before being sent down to the San Antonio Rampage to work on his defense. To Blais’ credit, he knows exactly what he needs to work on:

“Everyone knows my defensive game has to get better and I think I’m working hard in the AHL to be better and be a better hockey player,” Blais said. “My offensive skills are there; there’s only my defensive side of the game that has to be better and I think I’m working hard for that.

“When I get in the D zone, stops and starts, not swinging too much and having good positioning in my zone is a big aspect that they want me to focus on and I think I’ve been doing that down there.”

Here’s hoping that his re-addition to the team can spark some offense on a fairly anemic third line.