The St. Louis Blues vs. Winnipeg Jets series is turning out to be just the hard fought battle fans expected it to be. The Blues managed to go up 2-0 in the series against the Jets in Winnipeg but lost their first game in St. Louis on Sunday night, 6-3. Until Game 3, Jordan Binnington seemed to be leading the Blues right to the second round.
But, the Blues have left Binnington out to dry. A goaltender can only stop so many shots. Your offence has to be able to score more than your goaltender gives up. While the Blues won the first two games, it has been frightening that their top line has not been contributing as much as they should. The Blues and Winnipeg’s top lines could wind up being the difference in this series.
St. Louis Blues vs. Winnipeg Jets: Top Lines Making a Difference
The Winnipeg Jets Top Line
The Jets top line got them to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Last season, the Jets lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final. This season, they ended the regular season in second place in the Central Division and are looking to make another deep playoff run.
In Game 2, the Jets top line combined for two goals and three assists. They had a hand in all three goals they scored in Game 2.
In Game 3, the Jets had two goals and two assists from their top line and won the game 6-3.
Overall, the Jets top line has nine points, seven more than the Blues.
The St. Louis Blues Top Line
The Blues top line last year lacked a number one centre. With the addition of Ryan O’Reilly, the Blues have become a force to be reckoned with in the latter half of the season. They missed the playoffs last season without him. If he doesn’t start contributing more in the playoffs, the Blues won’t make it any further.
In Game 1, the Blues top line of Brayden Schenn, O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko combined for no points and five shots, but the Blues managed came out on top, 2-1, thanks to goals by the second line right winger David Perron and the third line centre Tyler Bozak.
The Blues top line only had one goal by O’Reilly. However, the line had 13 shots on goal and the Blues won, 4-3. However, It was bound to catch up to them that Schenn and Tarasenko were having a hard time scoring. Specifically Tarasenko, who had six of their 13 shots.
In Game 3, Tarasenko finally scored, but it was the only point the top line got despite having eight shots on goal. The Jets had two goals and two assists from their top line and won the game 6-3.
Overall, the Blues top line only has two. The Blues are a talented team up and down the roster, but this is not acceptable from their best players.
What This Means For The Rest of the St. Louis Blues vs. Winnipeg Jets Series
The Blues were successful the latter half of the regular season because every line and defensive pairing had chemistry and was producing points. The chemistry specifically between Tarasenko and O’Reilly has been unlike any other top line chemistry in the recent history of the Blues. It has to be the same way in the playoffs if they Blues have any chance at beating the Jets.
While it is great that the Blues are getting offensive help from their lower lines and their defencemen, there is no way to know they can depend on them game in and game out. The Blues are depending on their depth as much as they can, but they need the top line to produce more. The Blues don’t stand a chance against the Jets top line if their top line cannot start producing more points. It would be great for the Blues top line to get three or more points a night.
At the very least, they need to get more points than the Jets top line if they want to keep the series lead. Maybe that means the Blues should move another forward up to the top line like David Perron or Jaden Schwartz. Whatever the solution, it needs to happen quickly because Winnipeg is not going to sit back just because they won one game. They are going to fight with everything they have, including hard hits and impressive goals because they want to win. The question now is: Do the Blues want to win more than the Jets?
ST. LOUIS, MO – APRIL 14: Connor Hellebuyck #37 of the Winnipeg Jets makes a save against Ryan O’Reilly #90 of the Blues as Ben Chiarot #7 of the Winnipeg Jets defends in Game Three of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Enterprise Center on April 14, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)