PAAJARVI!! Who picked Magnus Paajarvi to score the series clinching OT goal in yesterday’s game? I know I didn’t. You have to give credit to Vladimir Sobotka for the set-up on the goal though. Sobotka quickly cut away from Martin Hanzal at the corner boards and went straight for the middle. Jared Spurgeon went away from Paajarvi to step up on Sobotka but that left Magnus Paajarvi wide open to put it home for the Blues to go marching on to the next round.
Game 1 Jake Allen stole for the Blues. Plain and simple. The Blues had no business being in that game but Jake “The Snake” Allen stood on his head and played one of the best games by a goalie I’ve ever seen. If it weren’t for the efforts of Jake Allen this series, I think the series would be at best 3-2 Blues. Games 2 and 3 were better for the Blues but the problem I had was when they took the lead they would sit on it. They would let the Wild come at them and build momentum off the possession the they were getting. Game 4 the Blues started off flat and with just no energy, and it was too late before they started to step on the gas pedal. They did play very solid defensively most of the series though. They did a great job of clearing rebounds and not letting the Wild get to the middle of the ice. So even though the Wild had a lot of shots on goal, a lot of their shots were from the outside or just shots just to throw the puck at the net. The Blues lead for 151:34 of the series(46.3% of the series) and trailed for only 43:10. You’ve got to be doing something right with that kind of edge don’t you think?
Yesterday’s game I thought was the Blues best game. They came out flying and scored 2 goals in the first 11 minutes of the game, one by Tarasenko and the other by Steen. They had control of the first period till there was about 6 minutes left in the period and the Wild started to swarm the Blues. About 17 minutes into the period Upshall took a bad cross checking penalty, which eventually lead to Suter’s power play goal that got the Wild back into the game. There were times where the Wild were pouring it on but they are a good team and were desperate to extend the series. I thought overall the Blues kept their foot on the gas until they took a 3-1 lead on Paul Stastny’s goal and then they started to take penalties. While some of the calls were questionable, the Blues were taking penalties and at the wrong time. Mikko Koivu scored on the power play to get the Wild to within one. Then Zucker tied it up with a partial break and a quick cut to the left that froze Allen. In OT, I thought the Blues controlled most of the play and ended up winning the series because of a beautiful set-up by Sobotka to Paajarvi.
My 3 stars for the series were:
#3 Jaden Schwartz: Schwartz tallied the game winners in games 2 and 3 and overall had 5 points. Schwartz was all over the ice in this series and was a presence at both ends of the ice. He hounded opposing players and controlled the puck very well even with guys all over him.
#2 Alex Pietrangelo: Pietrangelo, besides Allen, was the Blues best player out there. The way he defended against the Wild’s top players was remarkable and the amount of ice time he was racking up. He was averaging around 29 minutes of ice time per game in the series. He picked the pocket of Wild players gracefully and moved the puck around fantastically. He calmed the play down when he could. For instance, the game winning goal by Schwartz in-game 2 would’ve never happened if it weren’t for the patience of Pietrangelo to wait for fresh legs to get on the ice. While others may disagree with my choice here and put Joel Edmundson as one of the 3 stars(which I almost put him at #3) the way Pietrangelo defends and handles the puck is elite among the league.
#1 Jake Allen: While this may come as a surprise(not really), Allen is my first star of the series. Jake Allen was remarkable. Allen stole game 1 for the Blues with a 51 save performance and saved 174 shots of the 182 he faced. He had a .956 SV% and a 1.47 GAA for the series. Those are outstanding numbers especially for a goalie that started out the year abysmal. Allen has been a great story this year, going from probably the worst goalie in the league to becoming the best since Yeo’s taken over as head coach. Whatever lies ahead for the Blues and these playoffs, Allen has been remarkable and will give the Blues every chance to win.