Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Live in the moment attitude has Husso off to solid start in postseason

Blues goalie made 37 saves in playoff debut, kept team composed, 
especially early when Minnesota pushed to get crowd into Game 1

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Say what you will about Ville Husso, but the Finn is all about the moment.
Good or bad, nothing phases him, and the Helsinki native is adept at moving on.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Ville Husso (35) was rock solid in his NHL playoff debut,
making 37 saves in a 4-0 win over Jared Spurgeon (46) and the Wild.

He had to be with the range of emotions, ups and downs and the like in Game 1 of the Western Conference first round against the Minnesota Wild.

Husso made 37 saves in his playoff debut, a 4-0 Blues win to go up 1-0 in the series, and it didn't take long for the 27-year-old to assert himself into the game.

Ask Kirill Kaprizov, who was denied with Husso's right pad 2:52 into the game on a Wild power play after a failed clear; then ask Marcus Foligno, who was denied in the slot on the backhand by a left pad stop at 3:20.

It was evident that Husso, who became the first Blues goalie in their history to earn a shutout in his first start, was dialed in, and in doing so, improved to 6-0 lifetime against the Wild.

"He was great right from the puck drop last night," Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. "He made that save on Foligno early. He’s been doing it all year for us. So coming into Game 1 for us, he made some big saves, steal it for us early and then we were able to find the first one."
At the start of any series, it can be intimidating for any player, especially one making his first playoff start, and in a building like Xcel Energy Center, against a team playing so well, the challenge can be daunting.

But Husso weathered it all, including one chaotic moment in the second period that was his own doing that produced plenty of bodies -- but no goals against -- and once he weathered everything, there would be no denying him.

That calm demeanor through it all enabled Husso to endure the Wild and the 19,053 rooting against him.

"The goalie coach Davey (Alexander) said it was going to be a little louder than regular season games," Husso said. "So he reminded me that, so I knew. Playoff hockey is always going to be playoff hockey and it's nice to play in those games. And I think the rink was pretty loud today.

"... I was a little nervous before, like normally, but got a good start for the game, guys battled hard. I feel like it was, you know, just a normal game. Maybe the crowd was a little louder, but I did everything that I normally do and got ready. Same,  a little nervous before like always, in a good way. But I feel like it was a pretty normal day."

Husso, who was 25-7-6 and is 34-13-7 in his brief NHL career, won't blink one way or another. He can make a good save, or saves like he did early, and never flinch. Had Minnesota scored early and taken a lead, he will move on to the next play and not be overwhelmed by the moment.

"He doesn't show much out there, that's for sure," defenseman Torey Krug said. "He's pretty composed. He's always just looking to make the next save and whatever the team needs. He's a great backstop for us. 

"From Day 1, he's always been a competitor. He always shows up. If he's out of position, he'll scramble back. He's never out of a play. As a defenseman, you appreciate things like that because sometimes things happen out there where you get beat. They have a wide open look at the cage and he's able to scramble back and make a save. His competitiveness is obviously great."

Perhaps that's one of the reasons, aside from having an outstanding regular season, coach Craig Berube was comfortable going with Husso in Game 1 instead of the more experienced Jordan Binnington, who was in Husso's position in 2019 making his playoff debut as well.
We all know how that ended.

"He’s got a good attitude towards it all," Berube said of Husso. "He’s pretty calm and cool. Pretty dialed in on focusing on what he needs to do. Bad things will happen at times, but I think he brushes them off and focuses on the next play, and that’s got to be a mindset throughout the whole team, especially in the playoffs. It’s up and down, roller-coaster, this and that. There’s a lot going on. 

"I thought our team handled it pretty well last night with the composure part, and staying composed with all the penalties. It limits a lot of guys’ ice time and limits the flow of the bench, but our team did a good job of staying composed throughout it."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ville Husso was sharp for the Blues in Game 1 of their first round series
matchup against the Minnesota Wild with 37 saves.

And once Husso got his teammates settled in, the Blues went to work, on the power play, on the penalty kill, and especially David Perron, who had a hand in all four goals Monday with three goals and an assist.

"I don’t like to pump his tires when he’s here," Perron said smiling sitting next to Husso postgame Monday. "Obviously I’m a huge fan of 'Huus.' Even from four years ago, when he was a Black Ace, I just saw how hard he worked, how passionate he is for the game and you’re happy for guys that earn everything they have and he’s certainly done that. 

"The improvement he made over the summer, too, coming in and being ready whenever his name was going to be called upon. Learning the league last year a little bit too. We’re extremely proud of him. We want him to keep going and it’s good to get the first one of out of the way, for his nerves and all that."

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