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5 Keys: Blues at Jets, Game 5

Winnipeg aims to reverse trend of home losses in series; St. Louis needs top line to produce

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BLUES at JETS

8:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN360, TVAS, FS-MW

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2

 

The St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets will each try to take the lead in Game 5 of the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round at Bell MTS Place on Thursday.

When a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 is 205-55 (78.8 percent). The winner Thursday will have a chance to advance to the second round in Game 6 at St. Louis on Saturday.

 

[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Blues series coverage]

 

The road team has won each of the first four games of this series. If St. Louis wins Thursday, this will become the fourth best-of-7 NHL playoff series with the road team winning each of the first five games. The first three times were in the 1951 Semifinals between the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings, the 1995 Eastern Conference Final between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers and the 2004 Western Conference Final between the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks.

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:

 

1. Home-ice disadvantage

The trend of the home team losing the first four games is confounding to each opponent.

"It [home-ice advantage] doesn't feel as powerful," Jets coach Paul Maurice said after the morning skate Thursday.

Winnipeg was 25-12-4 at home during the regular season; St. Louis was 24-15-2.

The Jets lost the first two games at Bell MTS Place, 2-1 in Game 1 and 4-3 in Game 2. The Blues lost the past two at Enterprise Center, 6-3 in Game 3 and 2-1 in overtime in Game 4.

 

2. Paging Blues top line

The Blues' No. 1 line of Ryan O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko has scored three goals in the series (two by Tarasenko on the power play, one by O'Reilly) and was outplayed by the Jets' top line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor.

O'Reilly, who led St. Louis scorers in the regular season with 77 points (28 goals, 49 assists), has one goal and one assist. Schenn, who had 54 points (17 goals, 37 assists) in the regular season, has no points.

"We want to produce offense, but I think we're getting too spread out, too far away from each other," Schenn said.

 

3. Matching up

At home, the Blues preferred strength on strength, O'Reilly's line against Scheifele's line.

Now back in Winnipeg for Game 5, the Jets have the last change and may choose to go back to what they preferred in Game 2, the checking line of Adam Lowry, Brandon Tanev and Andrew Copp against O'Reilly's line.

But given how well it went for the Jets in St. Louis -- the Blues' top line had no goals at even strength in Games 3 and 4 -- they may be tempted to leave well enough alone.

 

4. In the zone

Coach Craig Berube said one thing the Blues would like to improve is zone time.

He thought St. Louis got bogged down too often for too long in its end through the past two games and said improved defense will be as important as possessing the puck to take some of the sting out of the Winnipeg attack.

 

5. More strong play from Laine

Jets forward Patrik Laine did not score in Game 4 but Maurice commended him for his strong forecheck and physical game. Laine had two shots on goal and four hits.

"Game 4 was the best game he's played as a Winnipeg Jet," Maurice said.

Laine scored in each of the first three games of the series and has four points (three goals, one assist) after having two points (one goal, one assist) in the final 12 games of the regular season.

 

Blues projected lineup

Brayden Schenn -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz -- Oskar Sundqvist -- David Perron

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Robby Fabbri -- Ivan Barbashev -- Alexander Steen

Vince Dunn -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Carl Gunnarsson, Michael Del Zotto, Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Jared Coreau

Injured: None

 

Jets projected lineup

Kyle Connor -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine

Andrew Copp -- Adam Lowry -- Brandon Tanev

Mathieu Perreault -- Kevin Hayes -- Jack Roslovic

Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot -- Dustin Byfuglien

Dmitry Kulikov -- Tyler Myers

Connor Hellebuyck

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Bogdan Kiselevich, Joe Morrow, Sami Niku, Matt Hendricks, Nathan Beaulieu, Par Lindholm

Injured: None

 

Status report

Bortuzzo is a game-time decision after missing the morning skate because of maintenance, Berube said. Gunnarsson will play if Bortuzzo can't. ... The Jets are not making any lineup changes. 

NHL.com correspondent Scott Billeck contributed to this report

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