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With Game 1 in Hand, Blues Make Small Tweaks

After being outchanced by Minnesota in opener, St. Louis turns to little changes

by Devin Lowe /

ST. PAUL -- The proverb goes something like this: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

So what can the St. Louis Blues do following a game in which they were outshot, outchanced and largely outplayed, but still came out ahead where it counts?

"They took it to us for most of the game in an honest look at it," said Blues goaltender Jake Allen, who made a playoff career-high 51 saves in Wednesday's 2-1 Game 1 overtime victory. "We just need to get a bit more speed into our game. … we're definitely going to be better next game. We've got a lot more to give."

Video: Blues Look to Build Momentum for Game 2

It was a tough game to swallow for the Minnesota Wild, which saw chance after chance turned aside by the surging Allen. And although St. Louis certainly didn't play poorly in front of their goaltender, there are plenty of areas they're looking to shore up on before Game 2.

One is limiting Minnesota's chances, which seemed to take a back seat last night as the Blues leaned more heavily on Allen to make big stops instead of generating offense in the Wild's end. Captain Alex Pietrangelo, who didn't skate in the Blues' optional practice on Thursday afternoon, pointed out that the shot margin -- Minnesota outshot St. Louis by a 2:1 ratio -- wasn't close to what they wanted it to be.

"I think we'll be the first to admit we can play better," Pietrangelo said. "We'll have a discussion in here about what we can change in terms of limiting their shots. Fifty shots is a lot to give up, I know. It went into overtime, but they seemed like they wanted to be aggressive. We can be more aggressive as well."

Part of being more aggressive might revolve on generating more chances on the power play: Minnesota's kill was a flawless 4-for-4 in Game 1.

Or perhaps the Blues could be more assertive man-on-man: The Wild outhit them 35-18, a stat that seems odd given how nimbly Minnesota is built and how big the Blues are on the back end.

Whatever tack they take, St. Louis is in an odd position: What do you fix when the results indicate that nothing's broken?

According to Blues forward David Perron, you let Allen be Allen, but give him a little more help.

"I felt like [Allen] was unbelievable and easily the best player in the game," Perron said. "Obviously, it's good for his confidence, good for us to see how good a level he can get, but we need to support him a little bit better."

Because Wednesday's game turned into a late night and led to a sparse optional skate, the Blues will study some film, tighten up what they can and let Allen stay hot.

Whether those tiny tweaks will change the results of Game 2 -- and whether the Blues would even want that to be the case, given the outcome of Game 1 -- is still a mystery.

"We'll watch video. I guess that's a coach's dream, right? Everybody gets to sit there and watch the video," Pietrangelo said. "They're probably doing the same thing over there trying to make adjustments. That's what it is in the playoffs ... whoever can make the adjustments quicker."

"There are a couple things we have to do differently, and a couple things we have to do better," Blues coach Mike Yeo added. "For me, the challenge is always recognizing the difference between the two. Certainly there are some areas where we can't be stubborn and just think we can continue down the same path and expect a different result."

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