Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues Second Round Preview

Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues
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Once again, the playoff round of Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues is set to happen, this time, in the second round. Much has changed since the sweep from last year’s first-round, even though the teams might look very similar. Both are stronger and ready to fight for their spot in the Conference Finals this year. Now, time will tell what happens next in the Avalanche vs Blues series.

Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues Series Preview

There are a few things worth noticing for this series. First is the goaltending for both teams and second is the defence core. And lastly, the special teams. All three factors will be key to success for both teams in this series and they’ll have to do their best to make everything go perfectly.

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Darcy Kuemper vs Jordan Binnington

Throughout last year’s first round, the Blues struggled a lot with everything. From Covid to injuries to everyone collapsing, their last set of defence needed to be their best. And unfortunately, it wasn’t even close to enough. However, this year the storyline is different. Jordan Binnington has been playing like his 2019 self and was great in the Minnesota series. When Ville Husso struggled to find a pace on Games 2 and 3, Binnington took the net and won three straight to help St. Louis win the round. With a .943 save percentage and a 1.67 goals-against average, he gave the Blues a real shot – and they took it.

Now, Darcy Kuemper has also been incredible for Colorado. He had a career-high regular season and throughout the first two games of the Nashville. The Canadian goaltender had a .934 save percentage, allowing only 1.63 goals. However, Kuemper was injured in the first period of Game 3 and Pavel Francouz had to finish the game in his place. And Francouz understood the assignment. In the two games he had to play as Kuemper was recovering from his eye injury, Francoz had a .902 save percentage and a 2.97 GAA. It might not seem impressive but he secured the wins for the sweep and that’s what matters.

Colorado has an impressive goaltending duo and, even though the Blues do as well, the Avs might have the advantage in this department.

Defence Core is Key For Avalanche vs Blues

The bad news for the Blues in the defence department is that Torey Krug and Marco Scandella are hurt. Head coach Craig Berube said on Monday that both will be with the team on the road trip. However, it’s not exactly an indicator that they will play. Krug will join the team for rehab purposes and that’s not usually a sign that players are ready to go.

Many might say that Scandella is not the best defenceman in the world but it’s still a deficit in their defense core. Krug was great for them this year, mostly paired with Justin Faulk. The good news is that the Blues eliminated the Minnesota Wild without both of them so they might find a way to do the same. What they’ll need is discipline and communication on the ice, as Colorado takes advantage of the tiniest mistake – and it usually leads to scoring.

Cale Makar Remains Unstoppable

Besides having an incredible forward group, Colorado also has a great defensive group. With Cale Makar and Devon Toews as their top pairing, the Blues will have to be extra careful whenever they’re on the ice. And that adds to the already difficult task of stopping their top line. Together, the Makar-Toews pairing has six goals and 15 points throughout four games. That’s incredible. Makar alone is responsible for 10 of those 15 and the Norris Trophy finalist continues to get better and better. Both players are heavily relied on but that’s only because they’re up to the task. Now, they’ll have to do their best to continue the success they’ve had so far.

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Special Teams Will Be Put to Test

The real show in this series will be the special teams. Colorado is known for their extremely successful power play – and the Blues, for their penalty kill. Combine those two teams and the power plays in this game will be very interesting. The blues had an 83.3% PK success in their first-round series against Minnesota and Colorado had a 43.8% PP success against the Nashville Predators. Looking at their PK stats, they had a 76.9% success and the Blues had a 30.8% PP success. Playing against each other in those situations will be a very interesting thing to see.

Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues Series Prediction

With everything put into perspective, this seems to be like an easy Colorado win. They have the forwards, they have the defence, they have the goaltending. Basically, they have everything. However, the Blues have the motivation to not let what happened last year repeat. And that’s also very important. Their team is strong, physical and very skilled and this will make a big difference compared to what Colorado faced in Nashville.

Their team has contributing players from the top line with Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron to their bottom-six with names like Jordan Kyrou, Brandon Saad, Tyler Bozak and Ivan Barbashev. It’ll be a tough opponent to go against. However, the odds are in favour of Colorado and it won’t be an easy battle for the Blues either. It’ll be a really good series but the Avalanche will take this one.

Prediction: Colorado in seven

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