Playoff Preview Western Conference Part 1

Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues; Photo Credit via Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s time for the 2021-22 NHL playoffs, so here are some pregame previews. In the Western Conference, let’s look at the first-round mashups. Avalanche came in first with 119 points, Wild in second with 113, and Flames took third with 111. Both the Stars and Predators fill in the wild card spots in the Central Division.

WILD (2C) VS BLUES (3C)

Minnesota Wild: 53-22-7

St. Louis Blues: 49-22-11

The record between the Blues and Wild is a tough call. They’ve played together three games throughout the season, which the Blues all won. Although they dominated in all three games, Wild came close to winning two out of the three since they ended in overtime. And the third meetup was during the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic. Both teams played outside in cold temperatures, and the Blues finished with a victory of 6-4.

In 22 games, St. Louis came back to win 12 of them (8-10-4) when trailing after the first period. As a result, they had the fourth-best points percentage in those situations. As for Wild, they’ve struggled with the penalty kills. According to NHL.com Minnesota was the third most penalized team (354 taken) during the regular season.

Impact Players For Wild

  • Mats Zuccarello: 24 goals and 55 assists in 70 games
  • Kirill Kaprizov: 47 goals and 61 assists in 81 games
  • Kevin Fiala: 33 goals and 52 assists in 82 games
  • Ryan Hartman: 34 goals and 31 assists in 82 games

Impact Players For Blues

  • Jordan Kyrou: 27 goals and 48 assists in 74 games
  • Robert Thomas: 27 goals and 57 assists in 72 games
  • Vladimir Tarasenko: 34 goals and 48 assists in 75 games
  • Pavel Buchnevich: 30 goals and 46 assists in 73 games

Goaltenders

Wild: I’ll never believe how the Vegas Golden Knights traded such a top goaltender like Marc-Andre Fleury during the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline (probably why the Knights didn’t make it to the playoffs this season). But it was a win for the Wild. He’s 9-2-0 with a 2.74 goals-against average and.910 save percentage since arriving in Minnesota. The 37-year-old has a lot of fire in him, who knows when he’ll retire?

Blues: Goalie Ville Husso stole the spotlight from Jordan Binnington this season. Husso has the better record of going 25-7-6 with a 2.56 GAA and .919 save percentage. Binnington has a 3.13 goals-against-average and a.901 save percentage in 18 games. Since Jan. 1, he’s gone 9-8-1 with a 3.45 GAA and.891 save percentage. We’ll see which goaltender will shine more during the playoffs.

My Pick: Again, looking at the stats, both teams are a close call to one another. I would go with St. Louis, only because Wild has a tough record with penalties which I think will hurt them in the long run unless they keep it down. But that doesn’t mean Minnesota doesn’t have a chance. They got a strong fighter with their newest acquire, Nicolas Deslauriers, from the Anaheim Ducks. We can’t forget about Fleury too.

STARS (1WC) VS FLAMES (1P)

Dallas Stars: 46-30-6

Calgary Flames: 50-21-11

Looking at the stats between the Stars and the Flames, it’s clear that the Flames are favored more. Despite being underdogs in 31 games this season, the Stars have 14 upset victories (45.2%). Being one of the greatest offensive teams this season, the Flames rank sixth with 3.55 goals per game and four players with over 30 goals. The Stars had scored only 2.6 goals per game in their previous ten games. However, their defense has been playing well recently, which could help them against the Flames.

Impact Players For the Stars

  • Jason Robertson: 41 goals and 38 assists in 74 games
  • Joe Pavelski: 27 goals and 54 assists in 82 games
  • Tyler Seguin: 24 goals and 25 assists in 81 games

Impact Players For the Flames

  • Johnny Gaudreau: 40 goals and 75 assists in 82 games
  • Matthew Tkachuk: 42 goals and 62 assists in 82 games
  • Elias Lindholm: 42 goals and 40 assists in 82 games

Goaltenders

This season, Dallas’ Jake Oettinger has been outstanding in the net, but so has Flames’ Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom has only allowed three goals in his last two starts. He would be able to protect the goal crease and lead the Flames to victory.

My Pick: Flames because of their several more talented guys on the ice and, of course, Markstrom.

These are going to be some exciting mashups to watch for sure. Stay tuned for more and be sure to check out part two of our Playoff Preview Western Conference.

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