The playoffs are so close we can taste it, and the Blues are swinging in nicely into playoff-ready mode. Tonight the Blues took on 3rd seeded Minnesota, who could eventually be a playoff opponent, and routed them straight out of the building. With Tyler Bozak resting, Vladimir Tarasenko out and Jake Walman busy quarantining after testing positive for covid, it seemed it could be a long night for the Blues heading into this matchup.
The Note were under heavy pressure the first 5-6 minutes of the game, with the Wild putting on an offensive clinic but Ville Husso shut the door early and often. Husso would prove to be a deciding factor with multiple ten-bell saves and a 31 save shutout to boot. All good signs coming from the back up goalie position should Jordan Binnington fall to injury or covid (god forbid). With the pressure mounting, the Blues turned the puck to the Wild end and started peppering Wild goaltender Cam Talbot. Ivan Barbashev, after getting the nod to play with O’Reilly and Perron on the top line, scored first breaking the ice and beginning the onslaught. Jaden Schwartz would follow up with a tap in finish after a brilliant effort from Jordan Kyrou, extending the lead to 2-0. Schwartz is a player that needed the boost in confidence going into the postseason, if he is going, the team will follow so this is fantastic news to all Blues fans going forward into the summer play. The 2nd period was all Blues, as defenseman Torey Krug would score his 2nd goal of the season, his first goal at 5 on 5 even strength play. David Perron would follow it 3 minutes later with his 17th goal and 3rd point of the night. Perron needs 1 more point in the next 3 periods of hockey to become the first Blue to score at a point-per-game clip since Pavol Demitra in 2002-2003.
Klim Kostin made his season debut tonight and played as we probably all expected, average. Kostin registered 6 hits while playing with Robert Thomas and Mike Hoffman. I believe as long the 22 year old Penza, Russia native isn’t a liability defensively, he can be a nice depth addition should anyone go down in the playoffs. Playing with the right line will be the toughest part about bringing in Kostin and getting him comfortable. Do you play him with the big boys up top and let them muck and grind to get him in scoring position? Or does Coach Berube keep him with guys like Thomas and Hoffman so he can free wheel and get him matched up against less pesky defensive pairs and checking forward lines? Only time will tell with this but it was good to see the kid get in and make his presence felt physically.
What did we take away from tonight’s win that we didn’t already know? Nothing if we are being honest. The Blues are a dangerous, veteran laden team that if given the gap to take an inch, they will take a foot come playoff time. This team is coming on strong at the right time and some of us are getting feelings of 2019, and if that’s the case, inject this team’s energy into our veins and let’s enjoy the ride that is about to begin next week. St. Louis is a force to be reckoned with when they get hot, and the boys are heating up at the exact right time, impeccable! We will find out tomorrow who the Blues 1st round opponent will be since the Avs and Golden Knights decided to complete blowouts of their own tonight, mucking up the race for the top seed and the chance to take on the Blues come next week. Here’s to the playoffs, it’s like Christmas for hockey fans and the most wonderful time of the year! Let’s Go Blues!
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch