The Blues and Jets series followed some familiar patterns in game five Thursday night. The team that scored first, threw more hits, won more face-offs, had more blocked shots, and generated more shots on goal lost. The main difference is that the team who won the special teams, won the game and what a win it was.
The Blues didn’t get off to the start they wanted, giving up a goal just 12 seconds into the game. Watch how Vince Dunn doesn’t aggressively support the play on the wall. Note how Ryan O’Reilly doesn’t mark Adam Lowry in the slot (how do the Blues keep doing this?). When you combine those with a less than optimal rebound given up by Jordan Binnington, it’s easy to see how Lowry scores the opening tally.
A little over 13 minutes later, the Jets would double the lead on a goal by Kevin Hayes. Hayes comes down the right wing. Joel Edmundson takes a poor line and makes a weak play, allowing Hayes to get to the net. Vince Dunn stands and watches as does Ivan Barbashev. Jordan Binnington’s left leg slides out a bit and he isn’t able to get drive to his right nor seal his right pad to the ice, allowing Hayes to score.
The score would stay 2-0 until Jacob Trouba takes an undisciplined roughing penalty with 21 seconds left in the 2nd period. The Blue would score early in the third period on the ensuing power play. Vladimir Tarasenko would miss an empty net, hitting the side of the net before Ryan O’Reilly is able to convert. O’Reilly shows some good soccer skills, kicking the puck to his forehand before beating Connor Hellebuyck.
The Blues would tie the score with a little over six minutes left in the game on a great play by Oskar Sundqvist who slides the puck to Brayden Schenn after being taken down by Dustin Byfuglien.
Under rule 63.6, “in order to award a goal in this situation, the goal post must have been displaced by the actions of a defending player, the puck must have been shot (or the player must be in the act of shooting) at the goal prior to the goal post being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts”. As such, they correctly ruled the play a good goal.
I think most people thought we were headed to overtime but Alexander Steen, Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz had other ideas. Trouba would make his 2nd big error leading to another Blues goal as he tries to bury the puck on the boards with significantly too much time still remaining.
Perhaps this is the goal that will turn Schwartz’s year around. Even if it doesn’t, Blues fans couldn’t hardly pick a better time for him to get his most important goal of the season. Will those last seven minutes will get both Schenn and Schwartz going for the rest of the playoffs? Blues fans sure hope so.
As most of you have read me for a while know, I often say it’s amazing how much you can understand and sometimes predict when applying logic to various situations. A friend of mine joked that coach Berube must be a Hockeybuzz reader.
I noted in my pre-game blog that some quotes from Berube and David Perron had me a bit concerned about a lack of willingness to adjust the lines when needed, mentioning in Game 4 I would have slid Perron up to the 1st line and moved Schenn down with Schwartz and Sundqvist. Berube did just that in Game 5 and the Blues picked up their play. Full credit to him for adjusting.
Given how well Carl Gunnarsson played in his return to the lineup in Game 5, I can’t see taking him out. Gunnarsson played over 18 minutes in his 1st playoff action this season with two blocked shots, even playing 1:31 of penalty killing time.
Vince Dunn struggled and had his ice time cut to 13:15. I don’t think they would consider swapping Dunn out for Bortuzzo but I expect Dunn will have a bit of a shorter leash in tonight’s game.
Robby Fabbri struggled in his 2nd game back. I think it will be very interesting to see who Berube goes with on the 4th line. Bortuzzo did not skate today so he looks out.
Expect the Jets to have a huge push to start game six. The Blues need to match this push. I don’t know about you but I’m expecting another one goal game (five of six have been).
The Blues need treat this more like a road game, playing a structured and composed game, knowing that doing so will create the chances they need to win the game. Win the special teams battle, win the third period, win the game. The Blues have outscored the Jets 9-4.
The key to the Blues road victories really has been the third period where the Blues have scored six goals while shutting the Jets out. In St. Louis, the Blues have been outscored in the third period 4-3.
Buckle up in your seats as this should be a wild ride tonight.
The NHL playoff officiating continues to be a challenge in my opinion. Consistency in penalties is lacing. Understanding how goaltender interference seems to be impossible and rule application seems to vary. The following was one of the two Leafs goals in their 2-1 victory and I still don’t understand how this was allowed to count based on the rules:
Luckily, with Schwartz scoring late we didn’t have to see the debate/complaining about the non-call on Josh Morrissey for throwing his stick into Ryan O’Reilly after O’Reilly went around him or how all four officials missed that Joel Edmundson’s clearing attempt deflected off O’Reilly’s stick, incorrectly calling a delay of game penalty on Edmundson. From the other series I have watched so far, the Blues and Jets have gotten more consistent officiating than most. The on-ice officials have a very tough job in game and are doing the best they can. I still struggle to see how the review process doesn’t produce more consistent results.
With some of the reports out of San Jose with some Knights fans being assaulted in San Jose, I want to take this opportunity to thank Blues fans for keeping it classy with the Jets fan who were in attendance to games 3 and 4 and thanking them in advance for doing the same tonight. Let’s show them the respect we want them to show the Edmundson’s and others in Winnipeg.
It was good to see this -
It was also great to see the ovation given to these two wonderful young Jets fans in game 4 - https://winnipegsun.com/news/news-news/charitable-spirit-earns-young-jets-fan-chance-to-watch-team-in-st-louis
Let’s also remember that this type of thing applies to referees, linesmen, the players and their significant others and family. Some of the stuff I have seen related to some of the player’s families and significant others this playoffs is disturbing. Social media can be a destructive media, please contribute to making it a positive one. Also note, I may not always be great at this but I’m working on it as well.
I've heard the following as nicknames for Thursday - Miracle in Manitoba, Whiteout in Winnipeg, and the Thursday Night Thriller. I'd go with the Thursday Night Thriller. Your opinion? Any better options?
NHL Champions for Charity
Given that the Predators pulled out the division title, I made my contribution to Best Buddies Tennessee https://www.bestbuddies.org/tennessee/
is the beneficiary. Best Buddies Tennessee is dedicated to establishing a volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a side note, I recently got to experience a Best Buddies even in the St. Louis area that was led by the Eureka high school football team. It was a lot of fun and brought a lot of joy to those involved.
It’s a great day for hockey.