When the NHL said that they were going to “crack down” on cross-checking, I doubt that this is what anyone thought that they meant. Spurgeon easily could’ve bruised or broken Pavel Buchnevich’s ankle. He was clearly frustrated at his team’s performance, but frustration is no excuse for intent to injure, which was clearly present.
But hey, it’s the playoffs, so it’s time to trot this thing out again:
The Blues, for their part, know what they need to do tonight: continue to roll the Wild’s penalty kill. The Wild’s PK was average at best during the regular season, while the Blues’ PP wrapped second overall in the NHL, and David Perron’s two goals with the man advantage easily reminded fans watching at home which team had the better special teams.
“Special teams killed us, 5-on-5 we were real good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said after an optional practice Tuesday. “Real good. In both zones, all three zones, 5-on-5. We just didn’t play there. We were 4-on-4 a ton. I don’t know the exact numbers. We were power play or penalty kill. And not a secret, they have not been good this year.
“So if we’re going to have success, obviously, they have to get better. We are going to adjust. There’s going to be adjustments made on both our special teams clearly to what they’re doing, to what we didn’t do to have success. But we have got to stay as much 5-on-5 as we can.”
The Wild had eight power plays Monday evening, and did nothing on any of them. Ville Husso stymied them at every opportunity en route to his 4-0 shutout. David Perron, who had four points on the evening, understands how quickly the tide can turn in the Wild’s favor:
“[The] next game, I think it’s going to be a lot different,” Perron said. “If they grab the first goal tonight, it’s probably a different game. It’s huge in playoffs to get the first one. We’ve just got to turn the page and get ready for the next one.”
One game does not a series win, but if the Blues are livid enough about Suprgeon’s intent to injure, they should have enough spark to get back to St. Louis up 2-0.