St. Paul, Minnesota – Two heart breaking losses on home ice and the Minnesota Wild have found themselves in a deep 2-0 hole going back to St. Louis for Games Three and Four. Despite out-shooting, out-hitting and winning the faceoff battle against the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota has failed to come out victorious.
As previously stated, this series would come down to the two goaltenders and boy has it. Jake Allen has been simply incredible, stopping 51 shots in Game One and 23 in Game Two. Allen has shut down Minnesota and so has the Blues defense. Wild fans’ worst nightmare has become a reality. Blues coach Mike Yeo has completely shut down Minnesota and has out-coached Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. Yeo has slowed down the speedy Wild forwards, forcing them to the outside and making them change their style.
It has been incredibly frustrating watching these two games in person. Minnesota is better than the Blues. They are deeper, faster and have more skill than St. Louis. The Blues are just so structured and play such a tight game, it is impossible to open up the ice. St. Louis has owned the neutral zone, forcing the Wild to dump-and-chase, making it impossible for odd man rushes.
I got to sit down with Minnesota Wild beat writer Michael Russo before Game Two for some dinner and he told me a crazy stat. He said the Wild led the NHL this season with 187 5-on-5 goals. The Blues however, were the best even-strength team in the league after Yeo took over the team.
St. Louis has held Minnesota to zero even-strength goals in two games. This is not the first time Wild fans have seen Yeo take over a team and make their goalie hot. When the Wild signed goalie Devan Dubnyk midseason in 2015, Yeo coached him up and Dubnyk was unstoppable. Dubnyk led the Wild to the playoffs that year.
This year, Yeo has done that same exact thing. He took over the Blues and had a chance to work his magic with Jake Allen. Allen has been absolutely phenomenal this series. He has controlled the series so far with some stone-cold saves in both games. The question is, how much longer can Allen stay this sharp?
This series is far from over, Minnesota is just waiting to break through against Allen. Once that happens, the Wild will win this series. Minnesota will look to get back into the series today on Easter Sunday at 3:00 for Game Three.
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