Colorado Avalanche Take Series Lead Against St Louis Blues

Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues
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As expected, the Colorado Avalanche have taken a series lead against the St Louis Blues. But the Blues are not going down without a fight. In the four games of the Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues series, every game was balanced enough that both could’ve taken the win. But Colorado is the better team and is taking advantage of every mistake the Blues make. And now, the Blues will have to do everything they can to avoid elimination.

Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues Series Midpoint

One thing that was certain about this series is that the goaltender battle would be insane. Both teams are able to create good chances and Darcy Kuemper and Jordan Binnington have had to put in the work to keep their teams alive. But the real difference has been how smart each team is playing. Colorado is creating more high danger chances and St. Louis has not been able to hold them back. They are doing a good job at shutting down the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. But the thing is, the Avalanche is a complete team and everyone steps up. And the Blues have not figured out how to shut down the other three lines – and the defencemen.

The Avs, on the other hand, are doing a good job at controlling the puck and clearing the zone quickly. But they need to help Kuemper in front of the net. Most of the Blues’ high danger chances come from chaotic panic moments right in front of the Colorado net and if they don’t clean that up, it can become a problem. Luckily for them, Kuemper is really, really good.

Goaltending Matchup

If the odds were against the Blues before Game 3, Jordan Binnington being hurt surely doesn’t help. The 28-year-old was injured in the first period of Game 3 after a collision with teammate Calle Rosen and Colorado forward Nazem Kadri. Now, Ville Husso had to take the net and things have not gone very well. In Game 3, he had a .826 save percentage and allowed our goals in 19 shots. In Game 4, Husso had a .861 SV% and let in five goals. Their defence is not the best in this series but he hasn’t been great either.

And even if he was, Darcy Kuemper has been absolutely insane. Besides the Game 2 fiasco – which wasn’t his fault at all, everyone was playing poorly – Kuemper is everything the Avalanche needs him to be. He’s a very calm goaltender and in every dangerous chance the Blues have, he’s there to make the save. No one is perfect, obviously, but Kuemper is the closest thing one can get.

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Colorado Keeps Exceeding Expectations

There’s been a lot of questions regarding the Avalanche for the past few seasons. They’re a great team in the regular season, winning everything and breaking franchise records everywhere. But when it comes to the playoffs, the team always falls short, even being cup favourites for a while now. This year, it feels different. They’re an excellent team, with talent in every line and pairing but they couldn’t find a way to work together in the playoffs. In the bubble, they lost to the Dallas Stars. Last year, they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights. And it’s not that those two teams are not good but those are series Colorado should’ve won and yet, they didn’t. It didn’t feel like they could, even in the games they won or that were close. This year, things are different. They’re exceeding every expectation people might’ve had of them and it feels right.

Forwards

Their forward group is stacked from top to bottom. The Blues are being able to shut MacKinnon down but everyone else is doing amazingly well. Kadri is playing like never before, having seven points in this series, including a hat trick on Game 4. Valeri Nichushkin is surfing the same high from the regular season and deadline acquisition Artturi Lehkonen is shining. Everyone is contributing and that’s a key to their success against the Blues.

Defencemen

This is a fun part. Colorado is an aggressive team and everyone knows that. They tend to attack their opponents with offence and that can be a little too much for players to defend against. But, as much as their forwards contribute to that, their defencemen stand out every time. It’s expected from MacKinnon, Kadri, Gabriel Landeskog and the others to produce. But having players like Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Erik Johnson and Bowen Byram also driving plays and putting pucks in the net is a huge part of the success the Avalanche have had so far. And that’s undeniable.

Keys to the Avalanche vs Blues Series

With Binnington hurt and the Blues structure unbalanced, Game 5 should be the last. The key to do that is to continue applying pressure and taking advantage of their mistakes. St Louis doesn’t defend well in front of the net and in the high slot so Colorado has to continue creating pressure there. For the Blues, they need to stay out of the penalty box and control the puck better in the offensive zone, using their physicality to win puck battles. And keep Colorado away from Husso, otherwise, their playoff run ends in Game 5.

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