Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson (42) battle for the puck in the third period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a series clinching game, the Blues contained the Wild and live to move on. A difficult series between two extremely talented teams lasted 6 games this time around. Even though each game was decided by more than 3 goals, this series was fairly competitive throughout. After both teams stealing a game on the road during the first 4 games, the Blues took over the series and finished it at home in game 6. They dressed 7 defensemen for most of the series due to injuries. However that played in to their advantage and the players and fans collectively let out a sigh of relief. Now that they sent the Wild to the offseason, they look to round 2 against the Colorado Avalanche.

Injury Issues

Coming into the series the Blues were battling the injury bug in the defensive core. Things didn’t get much better as the series started. Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich were both unavailable to start round 1. If that wasn’t bad enough for them, they proceeded to have Torey Krug go down in game 3 with a lower-body injury and did not return for the remainder of the series. Nick Leddy, and Robert Bortuzzo have been battled through injuries through the first series as well. Fortunately Perunovich, Bortuzzo, and Leddy finished the series on the ice.

Matchup With Colorado

The Avalanche and Blues had some impressive battles when looking back on the season. Between the 3 games played, the Avalanche took 2 of the games, but the teams matched at 12 goals apiece. If you look back even further, the Blues were sent home by the Avalanche in 4 short games in last year’s playoffs. On paper, this has the makings to be a very interesting series.

After their quick 4 games, Cale Makar leads the Avalanche with 10 points, while Nathan Mackinnon leads them with 5 goals. Their quick dispatching of the Nashville Predators certainly means that their stats aren’t as padded as they could be. But even then, they still pounded the back of the net with 21 goals. Darcy Kuemper got the start of the first three games but left the third game due to injury, to which Pavel Francouz came in to finish the series. Between the two they maintained a .920 save percentage and average 2.17 goals allowed a game. Just like they had to with Kirill Kaprizov, shutting down the young star Makar will lead to a better chance of winning the series.

The Blue’s offense shared the love as three members are tied at 5 goals, David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly, and Vladimir Tarasenko. Along with them, Jordan Kyrou found his early-season groove and picked up 3 goals late in the series. After the first 3 games of starting Ville Husso, the Blues switched to Jordan Binnington who hadn’t won a game since the 2019 Final. He quickly proved that he can still play like he did during their miracle playoff run.

My Take

As much as the first round didn’t appear to be as close as many thought it would be for the Blues, they really did have a tough battle. The way I see it, the road to the Stanley Cup Finals has to go through one of these teams. To some degree, the winner of this series statistically looks to have the advantage to make it to the Finals. Now, with that being said, it is playoff hockey and absolutely nothing should be taken for granted. With their depth, and the way Binnington looked more like himself, the Blues look very good in this matchup. The big asterisk with them will be their defensive injuries and how they cover for that. Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk can’t survive 30 minutes on ice each game for the foreseeable future. With a healthier defense my pick is the Blues in 6 games.

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