“Every arena has roughly the same amount of people in it, so regardless of where you are in the NHL in the playoffs, you expect it to be loud,” Marchand said after practice Friday. “I expect the same tomorrow, but not overly concerned about the fans. More concerned about the game.”
His response to a similar question before game one?
“I don’t really care what St. Louis fans think of me, so not even going to get into that.”
Ooooh, heel turn. It’s fine, though, because other than how well the Blues can neutralize Marchand - which they did delightfully in game two - fans and the team both have bigger fish to fry today. Will Vladimir Tarasenko, who did not skate yesterday, play? And who is stepping in for suspended forward Oskar Sundqvist?
Tarasenko missed about ten minutes after losing an edge and going down in the second period of game two. Fans were concerned, but coach Craig Berube said Friday that it was just an equipment issue. He was held off the ice at practice yesterday as a maintenance day, but Tarasenko will be playing tonight in game three.
Oskar Sundqvist, obviously, will not be playing tonight. He was suspended for game three due to his hit on Matt Grzelcyk, and during yesterday’s press conference, Berube was taciturn about the suspension:
“It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree. It’s just a League thing and they handled it so it’s over with.
”You miss a lot. He’s a good player, does a lot of good things for us on both sides of the puck. Good penalty killer, plays center, wing, great defensively and has produced for us in the playoffs, too.”
Yesterday, Berube was unsure who was going to be filling in for Sundqvist. Today, he seems to be leaning to Zach Sanford. Sanford, a Salem, Massachusetts native, has not played since the first three games against the Winnipeg Jets. He hasn’t shown a great deal of puck tenacity, but with Robert Thomas probably still out, he’s the Blues’ best option to fill in.
The Bruins will be slotting in John Moore for Grzelcyk tonight.
The Blues did a fine job of upping nearly every area of their play for game two, especially in the face off circle, where they split 50/50 with the Bruins. They also reversed the morbid shot total of game one, outshooting the Bruins 37-23, and absolutely dominating possession in the overtime period. One area where they still need to tighten up is with taking penalties. The Bruins were one for five on the power play in game two, and they’ve gotten the lion’s share of power play time. The officiating could be better, but there’s also something to be said about paying attention to what you’re doing. Don’t give the refs a chance to call anything, even if it’s ticky-tack stuff. It’s pretty obvious that they’re not sure what they’re doing. Don’t make it worse on yourselves.
If the Blues can maintain their physicality (50 hits in game two) through tonight, but keep it clean and smart, especially with the emotions of the home crowd running high, and the Blues can easily have a 2-1 series lead heading into game four.