ACKERMAN: Two Quick Takes
ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — The Cardinals just completed a split of their two-game series with the Cubs, winning 5-4 at Wrigley Field.
The Blues and Kings are about to go head-to-head in Game 5 of their first-round playoff matchup, with the series even at two games apiece. Scottrade Center will be rocking tonight.
It’s a good day to be a sports fan in this city. In the meantime, here are a couple of thoughts on each team before the puck drops:
- The core group of Blues forwards that helped build the foundation — the ones who were brought here to turn this franchise around and suffered through multiple heartbreaks in the process — need to be great tonight. I’m talking about David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and David Perron. They need to take control. After seeing their opponent flop in Game 4, the Kings have to be smelling blood. The Blues defensemen are showing signs of wear and goaltender Brian Elliott will only be able to stand on his head for so long. It’s up to the forwards to get this done and be leaders. Backes is the captain, so that goes without saying. Oshie needs to shake off his Game 4 (two goals but on the ice for all four Kings tallies) and play with energy. His teammates feed off of it. Berglund is at his best when he’s aggressive and forces the play to go his way. And Perron? I could hear him yapping all night in Game 2, from my seat behind Jonathan Quick. Maybe he’s inside Quick’s head, maybe not. But it’s time for Perron to cash in. He’s as talented as anyone with the puck on his stick. Time to score. He could be the difference tonight. Oh, and Andy McDonald? Well? We’re waiting…
- The swap of Marc Rzepczynski-Mitchell Boggs for Seth Maness-Carlos Martinez has made the Cardinals a different team overall. When the bullpen is settled, not only do the relievers begin to learn their roles, the starters gain even more confidence. But I really think the Cards offense benefits from this, as well. It’s much easier to manufacture runs when you’re in a one or two-run game as opposed to four or five. The revamped bullpen is allowing the lineup do its thing. Yes, the baserunning has caused some frustration at times, but this Cardinals team can generate offense. As April came to a close, I was much more concerned with the bullpen than the offense. The Cards are stacked with consistent hitters and the numbers will prove that over time. Frankly, I don’t think they’ve even begun to show their muscle. Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina. That’s a strong foursome when they’re clicking.
Enjoy the game!