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Ramsay: Blackhawks in good position to win series

by Dan Rosen

For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, 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 -- Craig Ramsay wouldn't be surprised if the Chicago Blackhawks pull even with the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 on Wednesday and go on to win the Western Conference First Round series despite losing the first two games.

Through three games in the best-of-7 series, currently led by the Blues 2-1, Ramsay feels Chicago has been the better team and is playing the brand of hockey it wants to play. He doesn't see how the Blues will find enough offense to beat the Blackhawks twice in the next four games.

"Even though they coughed up leads, you have to remember Chicago did have those leads, they did get ahead," Ramsay said, referencing the one-goal leads Chicago gave up late in regulation in Games 1 and 2. "Now they've lost a couple of them, but they've been ahead in every game and I think they're very comfortable with the kind of hockey that is being played. I think St. Louis has a big road ahead of them. I just don't see them scoring any goals."

Ramsay has three reasons for believing in the Blackhawks: He said they're not giving up odd-man rushes, they're playing smart with the puck in the offensive zone and they're sagging and blocking shots in the defensive zone. Add it all up and the result is fewer quality scoring chances for the Blues, which Ramsay said was evident Monday night even though St. Louis had a 34-25 edge in shots on goal and a 70-49 margin in shot attempts in Game 3.

The Blackhawks blocked 24 shots.

"How many rebounds chances did St. Louis get? Chicago is always back there," Ramsay said. "When teams start to panic a bit or they're just trying to create some offense, you tell them as a coach just throw it at the net and let's see what we can make happen. But you've gotta score with a certain style of play and if you just start throwing pucks at the net, at the end of the night you have a lot shots and it looks good, but your chances are not comparable to the number of shots. And I wouldn't have given St. Louis a lot of chances with the number of shots they had. I just didn't see it as an issue."

Ramsay also said the Blues' aren't getting enough out of their high-end players, specifically citing Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie. He also said the Blues have stopped getting activation in the offensive zone from their defensemen.

He mentioned that they had it earlier in the season, but it wasn't a factor in Game 3 and he wonders if it will be in Game 4.

"The players that need to hold onto the puck to create a physical advantage, they're just not doing it," Ramsay said. "I just don't see St. Louis beating them with the way they're playing right now. Other than [Jaden] Schwartz and [Vladimir] Tarasenko, who is going to score? Their supposed top guys don't look like they're going to score."


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