The St. Louis Blues got off the mat in Game 2 and managed to even up their series with the Minnesota Wild who are favored by the NHL betting lines for Game 3. Here's our best bet for Monday's match.
The St. Louis Blues Can Win Because…
They figured things out in Game 2. In Game 1, the Blues didn’t really put enough shots on Devan Dubnyk and they didn’t really take the game to the Wild, so they got worked over as a result. They took silly penalties, they didn’t play great on special teams, and as a result, they lost 4-2. However, Game 2 was a completely different story. To start, they 26 shots on Dubnyk, who only stopped 23 of them, they got their power play going (one-for-three) and they killed off the only power play that the Wild had. Beyond that, they completely outworked Minnesota in five-on-five. More importantly, their offensive stars got going as Vladimir Tarasenko – who didn’t have a shot in Game 1 – scored a hat trick while Alex Steen had a pair of assists. If these things continue, the NHL Odds underdog Blues should win Game 3.
Looking back on Dubnyk’s performance so far, he has been quite suspect. He’s allowed five goals on 47 shots, which means he has a .893 save percentage so far in this series. If the Blues keep the pressure on, they should continue to find ways through him. The key will be to play closer to how they did in Game 2 rather than how they played in Game 1.
The Minnesota Wild Can Win Because…
They’ll be more intense in this game. The Wild didn’t play with the same intensity in Game 2 as they did in Game 1, and it showed. In Game 1, they had more shots on net, more hits and more power plays. In Game 2, none of those arrows pointed in their direction. That’s likely because the Blues played with a do-or-die attitude in Game 2 while the Wild weren’t as hungry. However, now that they’re back at home, things will change.
St. Louis doesn’t play well in these low-scoring, conservative playoff series as we’ve seen in recent seasons. In Game 1, they looked handcuffed. In Game 2, even though they led the whole way, it never really looked like Minnesota was out of it. The first goal is key in this series and whoever gets it will be in the driver’s seat. The Wild are at home, so the crowd and the energy should favor them getting on the board first and dictating the pace of this game.
It’s hard to trust the Blues here even though Game 2 was a positive step in the right direction for them. In all likelihood, this series heads back to St. Louis for Game 5 knotted up at two games apiece. That being the case, I’ll take the Blues as a dog here and expect them to get one of the next two contests, which makes us profitable.
NHL Pick: Blues +118 at Pinnacle