Hey, you awake?
If there was ever a terrible day to sleep in late, it's today. The Minnesota Wild will be taking on the St. Louis Blues at 2:00 PM at the Scottrade Center. As you know, you can catch the game on the radio at KFAN affiliates, as well as the Wild's official website, and if you're looking for the game on television, you can find it on NBC.
As for the game itself, the Wild have an excellent opportunity to go back to Minnesota with a 2-0 lead over the Blues in the series, something that would be unfathomable given the Wild's struggles to St. Louis before this season, particularly on the road. Given that teams that go up 2-0 win 85% of Stanley Cup Playoff series, the Wild would be at a huge advantage upon returning to the Xcel Energy Center on Monday.
Though even if the Wild win today, fans shouldn't start booking flights to Nashville/Chicago just yet. Very good teams can erase and overcome 2-0 series leads. And who knows that better than the St. Louis Blues?
In each of the last two seasons, the St. Louis Blues amassed 2-0 series leads against the Blackhawks and Kings. They advanced neither time, getting swept in the next four games in each series, running into hot goalies Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick. It's been said, and will be said if the Blues lose today, that all the pressure on the series will be on St. Louis. And while there will likely be more than a little uneasiness in the locker room, no one else has more intimate knowledge of how just how little a 2-0 lead can mean.
It seems weird, considering the constant lineup shuffling earlier on in the season, but the Minnesota Wild will be rolling with the exact same lineup and lines as they did in Game 1. Most of the names in the lineup were locks to make it, but perhaps of some surprise to Wild fans is the return of Sean Bergenheim, the Wild's forgotten trade acquisition.
Upon being traded to the Wild, Bergenheim struggled to make an impact (beyond one on Nathan MacKinnon's nose), which combined with the Chris Stewart trade often left him on the healthy scratch list down the stretch. But after Matt Cooke had a setback health-wise before Game 1, it was Bergenheim (not Erik Haula, Ryan Carter, or Jordan Schroeder) who got the call to start on the Wild's fourth line. That line ended up having a good game, able to hold their own against the Blues' top players and keep the puck in the offensive zone. No one will mistake Bergenheim for a world-beater, but he does a lot of little things that actually positively impact his linemates. Keep an eye out for him to see if he has another solid game.
As for the Blues' line changes, coach Ken Hitchcock flip-flopped T.J. Oshie and Patrick Berglund, notable for putting Oshie on David Backes' line. My guess is they wanted their three most skilled wingers (Oshie, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jaden Schwartz) spread out through the lineup. David Backes' line was matched pretty strictly with Zach Parise's line in an effort to keep the Wild's top scoring line quiet, which he did until the nets were emptied. We'll see if trading defense for offense on the Backes line opens things up a bit more for Parise, who had one shot on Thursday.
Jake Allen will get the start in net today, which makes sense. Allen did get the loss on Thursday, but his performance (2 goals on 27 shots) was arguably better than Dubnyk's (2 goals on 21 shots). The two times Allen was beaten was due to elite skills in Zucker's speed and Dumba's shot. Nothing to be ashamed of there.
Again, the game is an early start- 2 PM on NBC. Chat it up in our Game Thread, and after the game, stick around at Hockey Wilderness for post-game coverage!