|G/PG||2.92 (5th)||2.77 (t-12th)|
|GA/PG||2.40 (5th)||2.42 (6th)|
|PP%||22.3% (4th)||15.8% (27th)|
|PK%||83.7% (t-7th)||86.3% (1st)|
Nov. 29 – STL 3 – 2 MIN (SO)
Mar. 14 – MIN 3 – 1 STL
Mar. 21 – MIN 6 – 3 STL
Apr. 11 – STL 4 – 2 MIN
The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild will face-off in the first round after wrapping up the regular season against each other.
The two teams tied the season series, which shows that this is not going to be an easy series for either team. Goals could be at a premium in this series, seeing that the Blues ranked fifth in goals against (2.40 GA/PG) and the Wild ranked sixth (2.42). That was not the case for Minnesota in mid-January, but then they acquired Devan Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes and everything changed.
Dubnyk was almost out of the NHL last year, but the 28-year-old re-discovered his game and took it to a whole new level in Minnesota. He started nearly every game and lowered their team goals against average from 3.26 to the previously mentioned 2.42. He did that by going 27-9-2 with a 1.78 GAA, .936 SV% and five shutouts in 39 saves.
For the Blues, they have two capable goaltenders, but coach Ken Hitchcock has yet to announce who will be their game 1 starter. Brian Elliott, 30, went 26-14-3 with a 2.26 GAA and .917 SV% and has 17 career NHL playoff starts going 6-10 with a 2.55 GAA and .898 SV%. Then there is 24-year-old Jake Allen who was 22-7-4 with a 2.28 GAA and .913 SV% including winning four of five down the stretch. He has never started a playoff game, which could lead to Elliott getting the nod, but Allen has made a case for him to be the game 1 starter.
Up front, the Blues have as deep of a roster as you can find in the NHL. This season they were led by 23-year-old Vladimir Tarasenko, who registered 37 goals and 36 assists (73 points) this season. After Tarasenko, they have a plethora of talented forwards which includes David Backes, Alex Steen, T.J Oshie, Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny to name a few. That roster was able to finish fifth in the league in scoring and possessed the fourth best power-play. They just might be too deep for Minnesota in a seven-game series.
For the Wild, they go as Zach Parise goes. He led the team with 62 points (33G / 29A) this season and had 14 points (4G / 10A) in 13 games in the playoffs last season. They have a lot capable forwards, but will need some people to step up against a Blues team who will easily roll four lines. Last season Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter were key for the Wild in the postseason and they need to be huge for Minny once again.
On the back-end, the Blues have two offensive weapons that will chip-in in fantasy playoff pools. Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk had 46 and 44 points respectively and both of them were at the top of the Blues scoring in their first-round defeat last season. For the Wild, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon should be their top-2 defensemen in playoff points, but Mathew Dumba makes for a nice sleeper.
At the end of the day, I think the Blues are just way too deep for Minnesota, but this is definitely a series that could go the distance.
Series Prediction: Blues win in 7
Leading Scorer: Vladimir Tarasenko
Series X-Factor: Devan Dubnyk