The Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues are in a stalemate. And not even the fun kind that seems competitive, but just a slog of a series that is now down to a best-of-three. A series where the one team is going to have their playoff dreams die and the other is going to come out of it a bloody mess to face the well-rested Colorado Avalanche.
Hockey is fun!
There doesn’t really need to be any lengthy discussion when we have seen so much of the two-sided coin that is the Wild this season. They have been able to put some pressure on the Blues at times, and looked good late into the Game 4 loss, but have generally been very dominant, or completely passive and letting the opposition skate all over them.
What side will we see tonight and can it even continue beyond just this one single game (if they win)? It’ll be tough to predict.
Projected Wild Lineup:
Kirill Kaprizov—Ryan Hartman—Mats Zuccarello
Kevin Fiala—Frederick Gaudreau—Matt Boldy
Jordan Greenway—Joel Eriksson Ek—Marcus Foligno
Brandon Duhaime—Tyson Jost—Nicolas Deslauriers
Jake Middleton—Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin—Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill—Alex Goligoski
Marc-Andre Fleury, as he has all series long.
While head coach Dean Evason continues to be coy and not spilling the beans if he is making any changes to the lineup after the Game 4 loss, it isn’t tough to imagine that it will actually be staying the same. It’s worked in the past, so why change now?
Projected Blues Lineup:
Brandon Saad—Robert Thomas—Jordan Kyrou
Brayden Schenn—Ryan O’Reilly—David Perron
Pavel Buchnevich—Ivan Barbashev—Vlad Tarasenko
Alexei Toropchenko—Tyler Bozak—Logan Brown
Nick Leddy—Colton Parayko
Calle Rosen—Justin Faulk
Nico Mikkola—Robert Bortuzzo
Blues head coach Craig Berube probably won’t let the public know what goaltender he is going with for a while, but it would not surprise anyone if he continued to go with the hot hand and select Jordan Binnington to be in the crease tonight. He made some impressive stops against some of the Wild’s top players, but wasn’t necessarily the sole reason they earned the win, as Ville Husso was in Game 1. Could go either way, but coaches seem to be very much set in their ways of not changing anything if they just won a game.
On the blue line, Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo are back, if that changes anything.
Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m.
Will it be another blowout?
There has just not been one game of the four in this series that has been decided by a neat and tidy single-goal lead. It’s been substantial victories for both teams, and of course, our preference is to have it be another blowout with the Minnesota Wild coming out on top, but it would be kind of cool to get your heart racing a bit and have the hell that is overtime hockey come alive again.
So how about Kevin Fiala?
There is one thing that has remained at least somewhat consistent through this series and it is Kevin Fiala not really showing up on the boxscore or being a visible threat. During the regular season, Fiala did manage to get a point in all three of the matches between these two clubs — one goal and two assists — so it’s not like it’s unknown territory. It’s just...something else, I guess. Hopefully he uses the recent chatter to breakthrough and be the star of the show tonight.