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Today | Game 2
St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks
3:30 p.m., Rogers Place (Edmonton), TV: Sportsnet; Radio: Sportsnet 650 AM
THE BIG MATCHUP
Jordan Binnington vs. Bo Horvat
The Canucks’ captain ignited his team Wednesday night, scoring twice against Binnington, who was not good in a 5-2 loss. Horvat’s game has greatly improved during the past two weeks, which is perfect timing for Vancouver’s leader. “He’s a really good leader, you’ve seen it this whole playoffs,” Brock Boeser said. “We’re following him. To see him play like this, it’s unbelievable.” The Blues simply need much more from their young goalie, or they’ll be swapping him out for the capable Jake Allen.
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Markstrom magic
The Canucks’ No. 1 netminder returned to fine form in Game 1 against the Blues. He was poor by his own admission against the Wild in the qualifying series-clincher last Friday. On Wednesday he was seeing and tracking the puck much better. Some of that may have been the defensive work in front of him, but there’s no denying he was making mistakes against the Wild that suggested he might have been tired. The Canucks need him at his best if they’re to win this series.
2. Power-play pop
The Canucks have scored on 28 per cent of their power-play opportunities through five post-season games. No team has scored more goals in the playoffs with the man advantage than Vancouver. “We took six minors and that’s way too many,” Blues head coach Craig Berube said. “I talk a lot about confidence with you guys and I think our group is really confident right now,” Canuck forward Brock Boeser said Wednesday. “W e feel we can score every single time.” A healthy power play is the second big key to the Canucks’ success.
3. Fighting spirit
Troy Stecher’s goal sank the Blues emotionally, Berube admitted Wednesday. The Canucks’ fighting spirit overwhelmed the defending Stanley Cup champions. “We can’t let one goal affect us the way it did,” Berube said. “We’ve done a good job of creating energy on the ice and on the bench,” Boeser said.
4. Blues no stranger to opening losses
The Blues lost Game 1 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final and the Western Conference Final. They’ve been in tougher spots than their current deficit before.
5. Miller time
J.T. Miller was a game-time decision Wednesday. Was he ill? Is he injured? We don’t know. All coach Travis Green would say is that Miller was unable to take part in the warm-up. The Lotto line did not play well in Game 1 and Miller’s borderline status no doubt was a factor. Boeser said Wednesday he never had any doubt that Miller would play. Green said he has no worries that a similar episode might afflict Miller today as well. We’ll see.
J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson
Antoine Roussel — Brandon Sutter — Jake Virtanen
Tyler Motte — Jay Beagle — Zack MacEwen
Alex Edler — Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes — Chris Tanev
Oscar Fantenberg — Troy Stecher
Goalies : Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko
Vladimir Tarasenko — Brayden Schenn — Jaden Schwartz
Zach Sanford — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron
Oskar Sundqvist — Robert Thomas — Tyler Bozak
Mackenzie MacEachern — Jacob LaRose — Troy Brouwer
Carl Gunnarsson — Alex Pietrangelo
Marco Scandella — Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn — Justin Faulk
Goalies : Jordan Binnington, Jake Allen
Canucks: Josh Leivo (fractured knee cap), Micheal Ferland (concussion symptoms), Tyler Toffoli (foot).
Blues: Jay Bouwmeester (heart), Sammy Blais (leg).
Canucks: 28% (4th)
Blues: 13.3% (16th)
Canucks: 84 % (10th)
Blues : 72.7% (21st)
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