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Millard's Five Storylines: Game 3

Adam Lowry a force in series so far

by Daren Millard @darenmillard /

1. Judging Josh Morrissey's return to the lineup requires a deeper dive than it would most players. The blueliner added a minute to his ice time in Game 2 and is minus one to start the series - on for the first Blues goal in game two.

Only team leader Dustin Byfuglien with his three assists has a point among defenders, so Morrissey has company in the empty production column. However, Paul Maurice and Charlie Huddy see beyond that. Over 60 per cent of Morrissey's starts are in the defensive zone, a number that becomes more significant when you consider he hasn't been part of the penalty killing unit yet. Coming off a career offensive season, Game 3 is well positioned to feature a more aggressive Morrissey.

2. Connor Hellebuyck wasn't the only Jets player who bristled at media queries the last couple of days. While it's still early for an "us against the world," rallying cry, playing with a chip on the shoulder wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. In the same vein, who is closest to playing the role of Jets' villian? Adam Lowry's third period surely got the Blues attention while Dustin Byfuglien is the most productive Winnipeg player. Patrik Laine has the history with the Blues, but so far, there hasn't been a clear cut target.  With eight, Laine now has twice as many goals against St.Louis as any other club this year. Hitting double digits would undoubtedly make the third-year Fin a focus of Craig Berube.

3. The Game Two line-juggling by Paul Maurice has spilled over to start the third meeting. Only the Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler unit is untouched by the coach's wand. Based on jersey colours during morning skate in St. Louis, Nikolaj Ehlers joins Bryan Little and Patrik Laine, who missed the morning skate but will play. Adam Lowry is set to centre Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev leaving Mathieu Perreault, (missed Game 2 with an injury) Kevin Hayes and Jack Roslovic. Laine has two of the Jets four goals in the series, with Wheeler and Scheifele accounting for the others. The best forward has arguably been Adam Lowry, combining his physical game with effective time on the penalty kill, expecting Blues coach Craig Berube to steer his top unit centred by Ryan O'Reilly clear of Lowry, Paul Maurice a little more of an offensive look.  

4. It's already been a winding road for Connor Hellebuyck. The game one performance was one save from matching the brilliance of Jordan Binnington before the Jets goalie faced criticism after allowing four in the loss in the second outing.  At the outset of the series, a saw-off between the goalies favoured Winnipeg, and it's a potent offence, now Hellebuyck needs to be the better of the two. Based on the roll Binnington is on, that may require something beyond a "big game". In winning both games in Manitoba, Binnington has now won five-in-a-row overall and ten of his last eleven. Oddly, the individual numbers for the Blues stopper were slightly higher at home, but that's nitpicking when his record at Enterprise Center is 14-2.

5. The Blues have won both games, but the two-games-to-none lead in the series stands in stark contrast to how close the individual sets have been. Neither side has led by more than a single goal, and the game has been even in both third periods. Of course, Winnipeg would love to out-duel the Blues in the final frame in Game 3, but what about making the period insignificant. The Jets enjoyed the lead through the middle part of both home games and were not able to capitalize on opportunities to create breathing room. An edge of any kind is valuable, but some breathing room for the Jets, in particular, might be just what a young roster needs to start enjoying the experience. 

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