You could have the loudest fan base on the planet. But does it even matter if you can’t play defense? Short-answer: No. Allowing early goals takes the wind out of your fans’ sails and kills home-ice advantage.
We saw this play out on Friday night. With the series deadlocked 1-1, the Blues were tagged slight moneyline favorites to win Game 3 as the home team. Within 3 minutes of puck drop, Minnesota scored twice. The fans went quiet. And the rest is history. The Wild went on to win Game 3 in dominating fashion by a final score of 5-1.
To be fair to St. Louis, they were without 2 of their Top-6 defensemen (Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy). A 3rd D-man (Marco Scandella) was playing through injury. And just 10 minutes into the game, they lost a 4th defensemen and arguably their best (Torey Krug) to left leg injury. He did not return and is expected to miss game 4.
Which brings us to today. Krug, Bortuzzo and Leddy are all expected to miss again. Which means STL will again be without THREE of their Top-6 defensemen. With a 4th playing through injury.
With that in mind, I’m really scratching my head to the point of hair loss as to how today’s game is priced as a coin flip. We’ve seen these playoff series ebb and flow. But without a healthy defense, it’s almost impossible to win playoff hockey games. Offense wins regular season games. Defense wins championships.
It really is an unfortunate situation for St. Louis and their fans. They’re not a bad team and worked hard to get this point. But the situation they’re facing feels almost insurmountable based on the circumstances.
Can they pull off a miraculous upset? Sure. Anything is possible. But in this case — I don’t think it’s probable. I’m confident the Wild should be favored in this game based on Blues’ defense situation and am betting accordingly.
These picks are correlated and if I’m wrong, we’ll bleed units. I don’t expect that to happen but please bet responsibly!