Wild, Blue Jackets both on the brink

St. Louis Blues' Jaden Schwartz (17) is swarmed by his teammates after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Friday, April 14, 2017, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Will the Wild or Blue Jackets win a game this postseason?

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The story:

It is impossible to confront being down 3-0 in a 7-game series with hope. Not only are you dealing with the dejection that comes with 3 straight losses, there’s also a track record to consider. 182 NHL playoff series have started with one team taking a 3-0 lead. Just 4 teams have overcome those odds. 2.2 percent.

Updated probabilities:

Dom’s model is weirdly optimistic about the Wild’s chances of taking 4 straight against the St. Louis. 11% is 5 times as much as the 2.2% of teams that have actually done it. And the model doesn’t seem to be overly kind to other teams in 3-0 holes- Columbus’ odds of knocking out the Penguins are just 5%.


Have the Wild been the better team?:

Until Minnesota makes a series of this, the story in this match-up is going to be Jake Allen. Allen has a .974 save percentage in these last 3 games. At 5-on-5 play, Allen has stopped an absurd 93 of 94 shots against him (.989!!!). What he’s done is outstanding. And it’s been extremely necessary for St. Louis. Because even though the Blues have gotten the better of the Wild in terms of the final scores, Minnesota has been by far the superior team this series. The Wild have been nothing short of dominant. Minnesota has crushed St. Louis in Corsi, out-attempting the Blues 176-102 at 5-on-5. That 63.3% Corsi For mark is the best of any playoff team by far (Montreal’s second at 56%). And it isn’t skewed due to one game, either. The “worst” outing Minnesota had was in Game 2, where they still controlled 58% of the shot attempts.

Blues cashed in early in game 3:

Wilds’ lone goal:

Game 3 winner:

Blues goalie Jake Allen after game 3:

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo:

Wild Coach Bruce Boudreau:

“I’m not going to criticize is our effort. These guys are trying right to the end. They are trying as bad as everybody. They want to bring it home to Minnesota, and right now, it’s not working. … Our whole goal is to win Wednesday. We win Wednesday and we’ll be happy for a day and we’ll see what happens on Friday.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk:

“We have had our chances and we’ve had some that found a way to stay out of the net. If we were getting smoked every game, obviously then that’s a different story. That’s not the case.”

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella’s decision making:

Scott Hartnell played 10:28 last night and very sparingly after the third period started. Sonny Milano, entering the lineup for Matt Calvert after Calvert’s suspension, played 6:46 last night, including no time on the ice from the third period on – he played 9 total shifts in an overtime game. Brandon Saad played just 2 minutes in overtime despite having the 5th best Corsi number of any of the forwards last night. Sam Gagner played 13 minutes. Meanwhile, Cam Atkinson played 25 minutes. Nick Foligno played 24 minutes, William Karlsson (who got absolutely shredded by Malkin’s line to the tune of a 30% CF%) played 20+ minutes. Head Coach John Tortorella’s other decisions have been baffling as well. After ranking 22nd in the NHL in hits in the regular season (averaging 20.17 hits per game), the Columbus Blue Jackets have gotten away from the game plan that made them a 108 point team in the first place, often pinching in for a hit (as evidenced by the fact that the team has averaged 44.33 hits per game this postseason) at the expense of defensive coverages. I have lost track of the number of times that a defenseman has been out of place and led to a two on one rush for the Penguins.


Pens Coach Mike Sullivan after Game 3:

“Some of the goals didn’t go our way early on but we responded the right way. That’s such an important aspect of our group, is our ability to respond and react the right way. … Game 4 is always the most difficult. They’re a good team and they’re a proud team and they’re well-coached and we know that we are probably going to see their best game and that next game is going to be that much more important to play the game and do our best to get to our game as early and often as we can.”

Jackets were excellent early:

Columbus was this close in OT:

The Pens OT winner:

Another angle:

Jake Geuntzel was fantastic:

Torts postgame:


Pens postgame was a bit more fun:

Are the Pens and Jackets even rivals?:

Pittsburgh took a 3-0 lead in the series. That’s the difference right now. The Penguins — especially their fans — aren’t ready to recognize this as that next-gen Eastern Conference rivalry. You can’t blame them. Pittsburgh is the defending Stanley Cup champions with long-standing rivalries against the Flyers, Capitals and Rangers. Penguins fans tend to point East when having rivalry conversations. You can feel it on the other side. Blue Jackets want in that conversation, and it wouldn’t hurt if they got there at Pittsburgh’s expense. Columbus is an emerging NHL franchise in a growing city that knows how to get behind a team. See: the 80,000-plus that went to the Ohio State spring game. Penguins-Blue Jackets needs one more thing. Columbus needs to win a playoff series between the two teams before we can take that big step. Otherwise it’s a just a heated matchup. Everything else is in place that makes great rivalries great is in place.

What do you think? Will the Wild or Blue Jackets win a game this postseason?

Debate by downloading our app on iOS at apple.co/1ITwL4w or on Android at bit.ly/fandings. You also can play online at playfandings.com.