The Blues look to even their best of seven, second round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Nashville Predators today at 2:00 CT on NBC.
If you read the Game Time paper on Friday I’m sure you gathered that, while many of us believed the Blues would win game 5, they didn’t stand much of a chance in the series.
One of the reasons was in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs teams have came back from 3-1 to win a series only 24 times. That is not too impressive when you consider all of the series that have been played since the league began.
The outstanding play of the Nashville defense was another reason. Before game 5 started Ryan Ellis had a point in 7 straight games (the first defenseman to do that since Chris Pronger) which made him the leading Nashville scorer as well as the best scoring defenseman in the playoffs.
Finally, the Blues had never scored the first goal in any of the first 4 games of the series and had only held the lead in a game once, for about 3 minutes in the third period of game 2.
And then Game 5 happened.
The Blues came out and played the game they needed to play in order to send this series back to Nashville.
They scored the first goal by getting shots through from the perimeter and crashing the net.
They shut down the Nashville defense by getting bodies in shooting lanes and pressuring the puck.
They were finally able to use their size advantage to force the puck down low and keep traffic away from the front of the net, further frustrating the Predators top line who after combining for 15 points in the first round have been held to only 3 in the second.
The Blues were able to get some scoring from their bottom six while Patrik Berglund and David Perron finally began to show some signs of life. Dmitrij Jaskin came up huge for his team while filling in for the injured Alexander Steen.
Was it perfect? No. But the Blues have shown throughout this series, and the one before it, that they don’t need to be perfect to win. In fact, one could say that they simply need to stop beating themselves.
If it would not have been for two simultaneous penalties that lead to a five on three, the Blues might not have given up a goal in that game.
Suddenly, a 3-1 series lead became a 3-2 which has the Predators in some uncharted waters. While they still have never trailed a series in this post season they have been awoken to the fact that with one more loss they could be tied and facing elimination.
Instead of the Blues needing to win three games in a row, they really only need to win one. They have already gotten the hardest win out of the way. Down 3-1, winning this series seemed like an almost impossible task.
However, after a game 5 win, the mountain doesn’t seem quite so steep and the journey has gotten a little shorter. Win one more game and the Blues will force a game 7 at home, where anything can happen.
So how do the Blues go about doing that?
Scoring the first goal is more important today then ever before. Take the crowd out of the game and put Nashville on it’s heels.
Get some scoring from secondary players. You can bet that Vladimir Tarasenko will have a human blanket for most of the game so goals need to come from other players. Guys like Vladimir Sobotka, Berglund, Perron, and Paul Stastny have to find ways to contribute.
Pressure the Nashville defense and force them to move the puck before they are ready. Don’t allow them to sit at the blue line and fire shot through traffic.
Get bodies in front of Pekka Rinne and keep him moving side to side.
Basically do everything that the Blues did in game 5, except one thing. Stay out of the FREAKING BOX!
Don’t worry about wining the series and don’t worry about wining two games in a row. Just focus on today. Win this game today and worry about the rest later.
The Blues are facing elimination but, in a way, they have been facing that for the entire season. It ain’t over until it’s over. Let’s Go Blues!