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Millard's Five Storylines: Game 5

Scheifele vs. O'Reilly matchup an intriguing one

by Daren Millard @darenmillard /

1. The Jets scored first in Game 1 and lost. St.Louis did the same thing in both games at home. Each club has watched third-period leads on home ice turn into losses. The Blues won a series high 61 per cent of the face-offs in Game 4 but were somehow forced to chase the play for most of the final 47 minutes, outshot 34 - 21 after their quick start to the first period. So many of hockey's long-trusted indicators have not translated into the expected results in the first four games.   

2. To match or not? When he last had the final change, Jets head coach Paul Maurice played Adam Lowry against the Blues top unit centred by Ryan O'Reilly. In Games 3&4, Maurice's counterpart Craig Berube sent O'Reilly's group against the Mark Scheifele line. 

A couple of things to take into consideration.  Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Conner dominated the matchup of best vs. best in Game 4 and since the Game 2 assignment against O'Reilly, Lowry has been reunited with Brandon Tanev, and Andrew Copp. Curious to see what Maurice does with last change. The Jets coach said he doesn't believe he has chased matchups as much as people believe.

3. Blake Wheeler's quote "the puck doesn't lie" is proving to be accurate. Winnipeg's top line accounted for both goals in Game 4, racking up 13 shots. Mark Scheifele was the engine that helped power four rush chances by the line in the overtime victory. Compare that to zero from the Blues' top unit of Ryan O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Vladamir Taraskenko. In all, the Jets out-chanced the Blues 12-4 in turning its transition game into a serious advantage - Scheifele scoring the tying goal off the rush.  The most unexpected of all chances came from Dmitry Kulikov who blew the zone and got a good shot off in the second period. How did that happen, you wonder? The best explanation, Kulikov was tracking his man high in the Jets zone when the Blues turned over the puck, so he made a bold move. I like the aggressiveness.

4. When the Jets took to the ice in Game 3, Paul Maurice had altered 75 per cent of his forward lines. Despite the Blues dropping back-to-back games, it doesn't look like Craig Berube has any intention of following suit. That doesn't mean the coach is pleased. Berube said the number one line of Brayden Schenn, Ryan O'Reilly, and Vladimir Tarasenko have to do more than defend when they are out against Winnipeg's top trio. In a matter of speaking, by leaving his lines intact for Game 5, Berube is giving his players a chance to become a difference in the series. There is a will-factor at play with athletes, Berube is counting on his players to elevate their effort and execution.

5. I am not a betting man, but I would lean towards Mathieu Perreault staying out of the penalty box for Game 5. The veteran winger has taken four penalties in the three games he's suited up, including a pair of minors in Game 4. Maurice didn't have an issue with the officiating on those calls, one of which led to the Blues' only goal in the Jets overtime victory. While the coach stayed away from being critical of the referees', Maurice did say that he may have had a chat (with Perreault). After killing off all seven penalties in the opening two games, three of the four goals scored by the Blues in St.Louis came on the power play.

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