St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild: 2022 Round One, Game 5 Preview

The St. Louis Blues have tied their series against Minnesota Wild 2-2 and will look to take the lead once more in their best of seven series. The first round of the playoff series has been tight and emotion-filled with the two central division opponents looking to make their way to the second round. The Blues will have their hands filled once more as they look to tame Kirill Kaprizov and the Wild tonight in enemy territory.

Blues and Wild Round One Series Statistics

2 Storylines: Blues

Binnington Helps Even Series

Securing his first playoff win since Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins, Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington backstopped a key victory for his team to even the best of seven series at two games apiece. Entering the game with a record of 0-9 with a 4.19 goals-against average and .875 save percentage in the postseason since the Stanley Cup victory, Binnington was ready to go.

“It felt good, I felt prepared,” Binnington said. “We had a good start to the game, a really good first period. Definitely a big win, a hard-fought win. We had guys step in the lineup, but I felt pretty good. Definitely I had to be patient. Nothing this morning, wait for the game, just hanging out at home and just prepping.”

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues Kirill Kaprizov Minnesota Wild
Colton Parayko and Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues defend the net against Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

After a 5-1 loss to the Wild during Game 3, the Blues needed to make a statement on home ice before heading back to Minnesota in a key game that will send either team on the brink of elimination. When asked if he knew about starting Game 4, the the 28-year-old goaltender said he knew he on Saturday that he would get the call.

When asked about the performance of the goaltender, head coach Craig Berube stated: “I thought he was really good tonight, played the puck exceptionally well. Looked real calm and cool in net. He’s always the same. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion (when I told him he was in). He just goes and plays.”

Blues Defensemen Sidelined

On Tuesday, Berube announced defenseman Marco Scandella will miss Game 5 of the playoff series. After missing three straight games, he returned to action in Game 3 and played only three shifts in Game 4 before exiting in the first period with a lower-body injury.

The team has been forced to rely upon their depth options and veteran leaders over the last few games with fellow defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy also out due to injury. In a postgame press conference, Berube announced that both Bortuzzo and Leddy had a decent chance to return to the lineup in Game 4 and that either Leddy and/or Bortuzzo could play in Game 5. This bodes well for the team after veteran defensemen Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko logged 31:10 and 30:37 minutes of ice time respectively.

Related: Blues’ Acquisition of Leddy is Band-Aid on Defensive Depth

The team was able to activate rookie defenseman Scott Perunovich from injured reserve as the club was in desperate need of skilled reinforcements. The 23-year-old was out of the lineup since Jan. 16 due to a left wrist injury and played in only 19 regular season games for the Blues this season. He logged 12:02 of time on ice during the game collecting one assist and blocking one shot.

2 Storylines: Wild

Slow Starting Wild

Heading into Game 4, the Wild had the Blues where they wanted them and down 2-1 in the series. However, a slow start to the first period saw Minnesota outshot 18-5. The team was fortunate to leave the ice tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play. After Blues forward Jordan Kyrou opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game, Wild forward Kaprizov was able to score the equalizer just 10 minutes later.

“We just felt we got disrupted a little early in the game, obviously, with [a] four-minute (minor to Kevin Fiala at 8:42 of the first period) and … then another high stick (on Joel Eriksson Ek) and then 4-on-4, so, the first period, we wanted to get to our game, and we weren’t able to get to our game because of that,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said.

The Wild were 19-3-1 during the regular season when scoring first at home and 12-5-1 when the opposition scored first.

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Fiala Struggling to Score

The 25-year-old forward has found himself in a difficult situation this series. After scoring 33 goals and 85 points over 82 regular season games, Kevin Fiala has managed only one assist and a minus-two rating in the first four games of the postseason. With the team currently struggling to find success on the power play this series, Fiala is one player that the Wild will need to heat up after scoring five goals on the man advantage this season.

Fiala and his linemates Frederick Gaudreau and Matt Boldy were able to gain some late-game momentum in Game 4 as Boldy was able to score an early third period goal to bring his club down 3-2 with nearly 18 minutes left to play in the game. After the loss, Fiala stated: “Frustrated or not, it’s a new game. If it’s going or not, it’s a new game. We’re going to do everything we can to just refocus and clear the mind and forget this game and take the positive with us. New game. New chances.” (from ‘Frustrated Fiala still scoreless with Wild-Blues series even’ AP News, 5/9/22). 

Making $5,100,000 this season, he is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

Players to Watch

St. Louis: Pavel Buchnevich – Nine shots on goal this series. He scored 30 goals this season and is bound to find the back of the net.

Minnesota: Joel Eriksson Ek – Tied 2-2 series in a game at home that could send the Blues back to St. Louis one loss away from elimination. The forward has five points in four games, second only to Kaprizov.

Projected Line Combinations

St. Louis Blues

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Brandon SaadRobert ThomasJordan Kyrou
Brayden SchennRyan O’ReillyDavid Perron
Pavel BuchnevichIvan BarbashevVladimir Tarasenko
Alexi ToropchenkoTyler BozakScott Perunovich
Left DefenseRight Defense
Nick LeddyColton Parayko
Calle RosenJustin Faulk
Niko MikkolaRobert Bortuzzo
Starting Goalie
Jordan Binnington

Minnesota Wild

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Kirill KaprizovRyan HartmanMats Zuccarello
Kevin FialaFrederick GaudreauMatthew Boldy
Jordan GreenwayJoel Eriksson EkMarcus Foligno
Nicolas DeslauriersTyson JostBrandon Duhaime
Left DefenseRight Defense
Jonas BrodinMathew Dumba
Jacob MiddletonJared Spurgeon
Jon MerrillAlex Goligoski
Starting Goalie
Marc-Andre Fleury

Blues’ Next Game: Game 6, Thursday, May 12 vs Minnesota Wild (8:30 PM CST)

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