While Darren Dreger tweeted that the Sun came up in Winnipeg this morning, it’s always Sunny in St. Louis thanks to the Blues unheralded MVP Oskar Sundqvist. Sunny helped the Blues take a 2-0 lead over the Jets and deliver Connor Hellebuyck’s sixth straight playoff loss.
Sundqvist opened the scoring just a little over five minutes into the game. Sundqvist and Jay Bouwmeester make a brilliant combination play to beat the gambling Josh Morrissey in the neutral zone, springing them on a two on one break.
Sundqvist wrists the shot past Helleybuyck to the blocker side.
Less than seven minutes later the Jets would tie the game. Colton Parayko has his shot blocked my Mark Scheifele at the end of a Blues power play, starting a long sequence that will eventually end in a Blake Wheeler one-timer goal. Jordan Binnington had no chance to make the save given the pass and the shot placement.
The Jets would take the lead on their 1st power play goal of the series and Patrik Laine’s 2nd of the series. Watch how Binnington hesitates at the middle of the net before going to the far post, way too late to stop Laine’s blast. He overly respected the player in the middle slot but it likely wouldn’t have mattered if he fully committed to the far post on the original pass.
About four minutes later, Pat Maroon would tie the game, turning the games momentum.
Sundqvist would give the Blues the lead around three minutes later. David Perron would find Sundqvist cutting into the middle of the ice before Sunny beat Hellebuyck again.
The Jets would get their 2nd power play goal of the period and the series when Mark Scheifele put an uncontested slot shot past Binnington. Normally Binnington stops this shot and you could see the temporary frustration in himself after the goal. I wouldn’t call it a weak goal necessarily but it is a shot Binnington has been stopping.
The Blues would get the game winning goal less than four minutes into the third period when Ryan O’Reilly shot through the legs of Ben Chiarot and beat Hellebuyck to the blocker side.
All in all, the Blues have put 6 goals past Hellebuyck of which 5 have beaten him to the blocker side and one was 5-hole.
In looking at key components to the series, the Blues depth scoring once again outshined the Jets top end level talent. Laine stayed hot against the Blues and the Blues got better goaltending.
If you are the Jets, I think you have to be concerned. You have dominated special teams and still lost both home games, brining your playoff losing streak to six games. Your efforts to get the Blues to retaliate have largely failed and have lost leads in both games. You’ve already shortened your bench, with Kyle Connor being on the only forward to hit 20 minutes in game one and Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Connor averaging almost 22 minutes each in game 2 and three players with less than 10 minutes. Compare that to the Blues who had no players with less than 10 minutes of ice time in game 2.
Is the series over? No, but game three is a must win in my opinion.
Anyone else notice that deadline addition Kevin Hayes only played 8:32 last night? His addition is working out about as I expected, he’s no Paul Stastny.
Anyone else notice how composed this Blues team has been? So different than years past. The Jets look like the Blues of years past. Perhaps this is due to the coaching staff. Perhaps it’s due to the new players. Whatever the cause, I like what I am seeing. At one point, Sundqvist got a cheap slash near the Blues bench and he whacked back. He was starting for the Jets player when someone on the bench grabbed his jersey to stop him. The Blues are truly playing as a team.
Sure there were issues for the Blues. Their special teams have been poor. Robert Thomas somehow only got credited with two giveaways when he had four obvious, terrible giveaways. Right now his play is big risk, big reward but you can see the potential for greatness in this teenager. Heck the team had 17 giveaways in game 2 and too many penalties while losing the game in the face-off circle but the only thing that matters is the win.
It will be interesting to see what changes the Jets make for tomorrow night’s game.
NHL Champions for Charity
Given that the Predators pulled out the division title, all be it not without some controversial officiating in the last couple of games, 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.