The St. Louis Blues pulled out a thrilling 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 to even up the series as they head back to St. Paul for Game 5. The Enterprise Center in St. Louis was rocking on Sunday afternoon as the Blues put on a show.
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Both teams have thrown punches back and forth, as was expected when two division rivals meet up in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blues have some positives to take from this victory, but a game can’t pass by without a negative of some sort.
Kyrou Goes Off in Two Goal Effort
It’s worthy to note that the hockey world got to see Jordan Kyrou at his absolute best in Game 4, but I should also make note that the Blues’ top-nine played much better with the changes made to the lineup. This was part two of the breakout on national television for Kyrou, who also won the fastest skater competition during All-Star weekend in Las Vegas.
Kyrou tallied two goals and registered five shots on goal in just under 18 minutes played. He was all over the ice, and passed up opportunities to shoot the puck even more. It would not have been surprising at all if he had a hat trick in this game — that’s how good he was alongside Robert Thomas and Brandon Saad.
That wasn’t it from the Blues’ forward group, as David Perron scored twice — including a long-range empty netter — and he now has five goals in four games. Perron and Ryan O’Reilly have been rock solid for the Blues in this series, combining for eight goals in the first four games. The Blues also got a much more consistent effort from Vladimir Tarasenko, who was reunited with Ivan Barbashev and Pavel Buchnevich, the Russian line that had great success early in the season.
If the Blues forwards play like this, it band-aids a lot of the potential defensive issues, scoring goals has become the biggest key for them in this series. Game 4 had to be a confidence builder for so many players on this roster, which could show through in a pivotal Game 5.
Battered and Bruised Defense Holds Serve
The number of injuries and changes for the Blues’ defensive unit in this series is startling. They began Game 4 with seven defensemen and 11 forwards, as Marco Scandella made his return. The return of Scandella didn’t last long, though, because he appeared to re-aggravate his lower-body injury, and didn’t return after the first period. They were stuck with Colton Parayko, Niko Mikkola, Justin Faulk, Calle Rosen, Steven Santini, and Scott Perunovich for the rest of the game.
It was great to see Perunovich back in for the Blues, who played in his first game since the middle of January after undergoing wrist surgery. He was solid despite only playing around 12 minutes, and he excelled at moving the puck on the power play. Overall, they generated eight shots on their first three power plays.
Parayko deserves a tip of the cap as well, because he was an absolute horse in this game. He ate up 30 minutes of ice-time and turned in one of his best performances in a long time. Faulk was solid registering 31 minutes, and Rosen had his best game of the series, there were plenty of encouraging signs from the defensive unit in this game.
It appears likely that the Blues could get at least one of Nick Leddy or Robert Bortuzzo back for Game 5, which would be a massive boost. Either way, there were a lot of positive signs from the back-end in Game 4.
Binnington Posts a Huge 28-Save Effort
This was the first playoff action for Jordan Binnington since a rough series against the Colorado Avalanche last season. He was on a seven-game playoff losing streak heading into this game, and despite that, he delivered in a big way for the Blues.
He saved 28 of 30 shots, including some enormous saves when the Blues led by only one goal in the third period. He was certainly locked in and ready to go, and a combination of confidence and the dark pads could be lethal for the Cup-winning netminder. He will most definitely start in Game 5, and the hope is that this was the game that got him his playoff swagger of 2019 back.
Either way, the Blues have a lot of positives heading into Game 5 as they try to get healthy. Goal scoring and goaltending will be two massive factors in the rest of the series as they try to make up for defensive shortcomings with injuries. Folks, we have a series, and it could end up being as close as expected heading into it.