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Wild at Blues Game Three Preview

Can the Blues get back on track without half of their defense?

Minnesota Wild v St Louis Blues Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Game three of the first round series between the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues sees the Blues return home after a split on the road. That’s exactly what the Blues needed to do - though winning both would’ve been preferable - and it doesn’t matter if Wednesday night’s loss was the 6-2 defeat that happened or a 2-1 tight game. A loss is a loss - in the playoffs you evaluate, you re-group, and you move on to the next game.

The Blues may be moving on to tonight’s game short three key defensemen. Marco Scandella has been out since the start of the round, Nick Leddy was injured in game one and was held out of game two, and Robert Bortuzzo took a blocked shot to the neck area and left Wednesday’s game early.

If you thought the defense looked out of sorts on Friday, with Calle Rosen out there trying his best, wait for Steve Santini, who the Blues called up yesterday. Both defensemen have NHL experience, but plopping an emergency call-up into a system in the middle of a playoff round is probably not what Craig Berube wants on his agenda for tonight.

Berube, however, had nothing but praise for Santini and his style of play on Thursday:

“He’s obviously a real good leader down there,” coach Craig Berube said of Santini. “He gives you everything he has every shift. There’s no doubt about that. He’s a difficult guy to play against; he’s physical and just simple with the puck. That’s his game.

...

“He’s not going to wow you with the puck play or anything like that, but he’s going to make simple plays and he’s going to play hard and he’s going to battle at the net and do things like that,” Berube said. “He’s going to try and make it difficult for the other team.”

Hopefully, Leddy can make a return tonight at the very least, because the Blues need someone to defend against Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov, who were responsible for five of the Wild’s six goals in game two. The Wild is a much better home team than road team, as their two losses, albeit close ones, in St. Louis show. The Blues actually have yet to lose to the Wild at home under Berube, so here’s hoping that trend continues through this series. Returning to Minnesota with a series edge could be enough to end this first round fight a little bit quicker than the pundits and probably even the players expect.