The St. Louis Blues put forth their worst effort of the series in Game 3 and then followed it up with their best effort in Game 4. They smoked the Minnesota Wild 6-1. Handicapping the NHL betting lines in this matchup has proven, so what can we expect in Game 5?
The Minnesota Wild Can Win Because…
There hasn’t been much carryover in this series from game to game. In other words, just because they got rocked in Game 4 doesn’t mean that it’ll happen again in Game 5. The issue is that the Blues effort hasn’t been consistent in this series. They disappeared in Game 3 when they only had 17 shots in total and had 16 more penalty minutes than the Wild (16-0). Then in Game 4, it was a complete turnaround. The Blues aren’t able to play with any level of consistency and that is what is killing them.
Although the Wild have to head to St. Louis for Game 5, they’ve been solid on the road all season, going 24-17 on the road to end the season. They have also won 13 of their last 15 away games. Look for them to bounce back in a serious way, play stronger defense, help out Devan Dubnyk much more and pull out the win.
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The St. Louis Blues Can Win Because…
They’ve finally got their mojo going. The Blues have had issues scoring in these playoffs as well as in previous postseasons, but they have seemingly found their way. Not only did they get six goals on the Wild in Game 4, they were able to chase Dubnyk, who has been the Wild’s rock. He hadn’t allowed more than three goals in any outing since he came over to the Wild but the Blues managed to get six on him. This could be a turning of the tide if they figured out what needs to be done.
The truth is that it’s mostly tied to their effort. If they are going to be lazy and get only about 20 shots on net, they are going to be in trouble as they were in Games 1 and 3 (when they averaged 19.0 shots per game). If they are going to push the pace and play aggressively, like when they did in Games 2 and 4, they are going to have a much better chance at winning.
The other issue is discipline. It’s no coincidence that in the Blues two losses, they have 44 penalty minutes and the Wild have just four. In the Blues wins, they have just four penalty minutes while the Wild have 10.
If the Blues can play aggressive yet smart, they’ll win Game 5.
This has been such a challenging series to predict but it does look like the Blues have figured it out: don’t take dumb penalties and play hard. With them back at home in this one, look for both of those arrows to point in their favor as they reclaim the series lead, and back them with your NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Blues -135 at Pinnacle