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Millard's Five Storylines: Game 1

Crowd is key - whiteout will have to be loud

by Daren Millard @darenmillard /

1. Other buildings can get loud but there isn't a place in sports that combines noise with a spectacle like the whiteout in Winnipeg.   The combination of the sights and sounds worked wonders agains the oppositions first go around at Bell MTS Place last spring when Winnipeg walked out with three wins in all three game ones. 

2. Nikolaj Ehlers joked that he was saving up his goals for the 2019 playoffs. The Jets winger, who endured a  high profile drought when he failed to score in last years march to the Western Conference final, enters game one against the Blues still looking for his first career playoff goal. Ehlers is a three-time twenty goal scorer whose postseason silence defies the odds.

3. Josh Morrissey will play in his first game since the end of February. The defenceman established career-best offensive numbers in his fifty-nine games, but just as significant, was the growth in ice time. Morrissey topped twenty-five minutes on thirteen occasions - compared to a total of three times prior to this season. Paul Maurice joked about keeping Morrissey below thirty minutes in the series opener, something the fourth year rearguard has never done in a regulation game. 29:02 is the career high established in December against New Jersey.

4. Patrik Laine is close. Really close when you consider the third-year winger led the National Hockey League in firing the puck off the iron. Laine was denied by the post fourteen times while ringing another off the crossbar. A slight tweak and post-and-out becomes bar-down.

5. Game one's starting goaltenders are the same age but have very different NHL resumes. Connor Helleybucyk has topped sixty appearances for a second consecutive season and has talked all year about peaking in time for the playoffs. Compare that to Jordan Binnington who spent six years in the minors before becoming an NHL regular in January. Any lack of experience at this level is countered by a remarkable record of 24-5-1 with five shutouts for the Blues' netminder. St. Louis does a great job protecting the rookie by rarely allowing more than thirty shots on goal.

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