For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, NHL.com has enlisted the help of former NHL coach Craig Ramsay to break down the action. Ramsay will be checking in throughout the series.
Ramsay played in more than 1,000 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres before going on to coach the Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers. In the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he led the Flyers to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Final. Ramsay was most recently an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.
CHICAGO -- The St. Louis Blues are struggling to score on the power play against the Chicago Blackhawks because they're relying too much on the outside shot instead of funneling pucks low and toward the net, longtime NHL coach Craig Ramsay told NHL.com.
"They're relying on a single-concept power play, which is get it to the point and shoot it, or get it from the point to the half-wall and shoot it," Ramsay said. "So they're looking at 45- and 50-foot shots and hoping for some miracle shot, but I don't see them with that guy, that big-time shooter. Chicago has recognized that and they're just flexing out. They're not ever afraid. They can take a penalty and they don't get scared."
The Blues are 2-for-23 on the power play in the Western Conference First Round series, which Chicago leads 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
St. Louis' problems were evident early in Game 5 on Friday, when it had two man-advantage opportunities within the first 10 minutes but never threatened from in front of the net. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford had to stop only one of the Blues' eight shot attempts on the power play. Four attempts were blocked and three others missed the net.
"The low guy never looked to the net, never took it to the net, never tried to pass through the crease, never tried any single thing to make Chicago come down," Ramsay said. "There is no threat. If in fact you think your power play scores from out high, then you must show them something down low. You must threaten them with a low play to make them respect you and sag. If you can't get them to sag, then penalty killers just giggle.
"St. Louis just has fallen in love with one concept, so they have to make a little switch."
Ramsay said it is an easy switch to make before Game 6.
"Imagine this: They throw it low to the goal line and [David] Backes walks out, or they throw it low and [Jaden] Schwartz or [Vladimir] Tarasenko walks out with Backes in front," Ramsay said. "You now have a 2-on-1 with a chance to score, and you've created fear in the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ramsay said the Blackhawks will react if the Blues do more with the puck down low.
"You don't have to break people, but you have to show them something else," he said. "They just refuse. They want to use that high-shot, tip-rebound game. They can't keep doing the same thing and expect it to suddenly be better."