Stanley Cup Playoffs: Blues vs. Avalanche Preview

Buckle up for another fun night of hockey, Blues fans! Tonight features a battle between two teams looking to prove they have what it takes play deeper into the postseason.

This season marks the first time the Blues have entered Round 2 since winning the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, this round has been the exit point for Colorado for three years straight when advancing to the playoffs. Their last conference final was in 2002.

The keys to the game for St. Louis will be minimizing the impacts of Cale Makar and Nathan McKinnon. Makar has 10 points, including seven assists in the last five games according to NHL Game Center. By comparison, Ryan O’ Reilly has six points and Pavel Buchnevich has four assists.

McKinnon and Vladimir Tarasenko are even with five goals each.

Blues head coach Craig Berube has already mentioned the importance of staying disciplined, of staying out of the penalty box against the Avs. The Blues lead the Avalanche in penalty kill percentage 83.3 to 76.9, ranking them seventh and 10th in the NHL respectively. However, Colorado is first in power play percentage and the Blues are fourth, 43.8 to 30.8.

Andy Strickland of Bally Sports Midwest discussed the matchup with KMOX’s Joe Pott on Sports Open Line. (Listen to the full preview via the audio clip at the top of this page.)

Brandon Saad, Buchnevich, and Tarasenko each came up during discussion of offensive depth.

“...nine different 20 goal scorers on this team the confidence and swagger they play with, the success this team had from a special team standpoint at both ends of the spectrum both on the power play and the penalty kill, the rate at which this team score goals and just the confidence they play with in this team being way more of a rush team, Joe, than maybe they have in the past… ,” Strikland said.

Speaking of special teams, it was pointed out that the Blues scored power play goals in each of the six games against the Minnesota Wild. Strickland expects the team to be able to handle themselves against the Avalanche.

“Both teams are playing mature teams in terms of the overall makeup. And I don't think they'll be running around and putting themselves in a situation where you are caught, you know, making this a special teams battle,” Strickland said.

“…I think (the Blues) had eight powerplay goals in the first round. That led all teams in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And I think the Blues are certainly way more comfortable if it were to turn into a special teams battle,” Strickland added.

Holding onto the puck will be another factor as St. Louis has a slight faceoff percentage edge 51.8 to 50.4, ranking the Blues fifth in the league while Colorado is in eighth.

David Perron is expected to be a player to watch this series as he missed the previous postseason clash with Colorado due to COVID-19. The Blues were swept in that series and outscored 20-7.

This time around, Perron enters the series with the Avalanche with a Blues record nine points in a six-game series following the Blues defeat of the Wild. Perron now joins a list that includes Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, and Pierre Turgeon.

Colorado is fresh off a sweep of the Nashville Predators in the first round, outscoring them 21-9 in those four games. They finished the regular season as the best team in the Central Division with 119 points.

The game is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. central time and takes place at Ball Arena in Denver.