Wild vs Blues Playoff Preview
There is definitely no lack of goaltending strength in this series as all four could be starters. Expect St. Louis to start Ville Husso who has had a better season than Binnington and expect Minnesota to start Fleury in game one. You just don’t trade for Marc-Andre Fleury without the goal being to start him in the playoffs.
These teams have met three times this season with St. Louis winning all three of those contests: Blues 3-0-0; Wild 0-1-2. Two of these wins were a result of three-on-three overtime or a shootout, both of which aren’t a feature of playoff hockey.
The Wild took a massive gamble this offseason when they decided to buy out club veterans Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. This bet seems to have paid off for them though the re-signig of Kirill “The Thrill” Kaprizov and the development of younger players such as Matt Boldy.
The Wild have solid offensive depth with six different players reaching the twenty goal mark this year. As impressive as that might be, it’s surprisingly not enough to give them an advantage in this series. Minnesota will hope Kevin Fiala can continue to put up points at a consistent rate like he did throughout the season and worry about his contract later.
St. Louis (49-22-11)
As mentioned earlier, the Wild don’t have the offensive depth advantage despite having six twenty goal scorers and that’s because the Blue have nine! Minnesota will need to hope their goalies are dialed in because St. Louis is a threat at any time, with any line. Similarly to Minnesota, St. Louis will be feeling pretty comfortable about the goaltending position considering the goaltender who won them a Stanley Cup three years ago will be starting on the bench.
St. Louis might have gotten lucky when Seattle neglected to select Vadimir Tarasenko in the expansion draft but credit Doug Armstrong for holding onto him when Tarasenko asked for a trade. Tarasenko rebounded by scoring 34 goals and 48 assists for 82 points in 75 games this season which definitely will increase his trade value if they look to move him this offseason. Robert Thomas will also be looking to prolong his fantastic season and help push the Blues beyond the Wild.
Keys To The Series
These teams have played some fierce games against each other down the stretch and that battle is ready to continue into the playoffs. This series has the potential to create some massive storylines as two dangerous offenses look to solve a set of goaltenders who aren’t likely to give an inch. Expect to see a physical matchup as both teams have some heavy hitters. This should be a great series!