The story of Devan Dubnyk’s rise from the ashes was not just a regular season tale. While St. Louis was able to chase him from Game 4 by scoring six goals on 17 shots, Dubnyk has simply bounced right back with two solid performances that have ended the Central Division-winning Blues’ playoff run after only six contests.
One of those markers was scored by Zach Parise and the Wild’s star forward was also able to net his third of the series early in the final period to give Minnesota a much-needed two-goal cushion:
With that, St. Louis has now endured three straight first-round exits. To the Blues’ credit, they have been dealt tough opponents off the bat. In the previous two years they were eliminated by Los Angeles and Chicago. Minnesota was arguably another unlucky draw for them as the Wild have been one of the best teams in the league since acquiring Dubnyk on January 14.
At the same time, that’s not much of an excuse for St. Louis. For years the Blues have had depth and an outstanding defensive core and with the rise of Vladimir Tarasenko, they have some star power up front too. It’s been enough for them to excel in the regular season, but it hasn’t mattered once the playoffs start.
It might be enough to bring the end of the Ken Hitchcock era. Whether or not that happens, the Blues will certainly need to do some serious self-evaluation.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild will challenge Chicago for the third straight season. The Wild lost the last two series, but this might be a case where the third time’s the charm.