Bruce Boudreau’s philosophy on the Stanley Cup Playoffs is that the best team usually wins each series.
“Every team is capable of winning, but usually the best team does win,” he said.
So were the St. Louis Blues, who eliminated the Wild in five games on Saturday, the best team in the series?
“They weren’t the better team,” he said, “but they won four games.”
This might sound petulant, coming from a coach whose team was dispatched in the first round in five games after a 106-point season, going from 3.31 goals per game in the regular season to 1.60 against the Blues.
But the fact is that the Wild carried the play in these games. They had 36.4 shots per game to the Blues’ 26.8, which was last in the postseason. They had a significant puck possession advantage: a Corsi-For percentage – 5-on-5, adjusted for score and venue – of 60.11 percent, best in the playoffs, to the Blues’ 39.89, the lowest.
So why couldn’t the Wild manage more than four even-strength goals in five games?
“Seriously?” Boudreau answered, dumbfounded, when asked about the offensive struggles. “We averaged 40 shots on goal per game. The goalie obviously was pretty good.”
And that, in the end, was the difference. The Wild had the shot advantage. They had the possession advantage. They had home ice advantage. They might have had the advantage of being the better team of the two.
What they didn’t have was a goalie like Jake Allen, who stopped 152 of 157 shots for the Blues.
“You could look back at all five games, and it was something like that happening. Think you were going to pull it out. Get the tie. Get the win. And it didn’t happen,” said Boudreau.
“I don’t know if shocked is the right word. Disappointed is a better word.”
Unfortunately for the coach and his team, they’ve known far too much of it in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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