Blues eliminate Wild; get rematch with Avalanche
We know of at least one Second Round matchup in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Thanks to their 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, the St. Louis Blues are advancing and will take on the Colorado Avalanche in a rematch of last year’s First Round series.
The Blues knocked out the Wild by winning three consecutive games, scoring five goals in each of them.
Their high-powered offense was on display throughout much of the series, but things really shifted for them in Game 4 when they replaced Ville Husso with Jordan Binnington in net. It was a bold move given the fact Husso had outplayed Binnington all season, while Binnington’s recent playoff performances had been ugly prior to this season. But sometimes goaltending can be unpredictable, and the switch paid off in a big way for the Blues who were able to take control over the series and easily dispatch the Wild by outscoring them 15-5 to close it out.
The Blues got off and running in the first period on Thursday when defenseman Nick Leddy opened the scoring by taking advantage of a brutal defensive effort by the Wild and beating Cam Talbot with an innocent looking shot. Talbot got the start for Minnesota after Marc-Andre Fleury started the first four games of the series.
That defense is as soft as you can get, and you really need your goalie to make a save there if you are Minnesota. That set the tone for the rest of the game. Minnesota was never really in it.
That goal, along with a couple of masterful penalty kills, sent St. Louis into the first intermission with a one-goal lead. The Blues’ offense then erupted in the second period with three goals from Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, and Vladimir Tarasenko to put the game, and the series, away. O’Reilly and Tarasenko both finished the series with five goals.
This was an impressive win for the Blues who spent much of the series playing with a banged up defense, a position that was already one of its biggest weaknesses this season.
Things are going to get significantly tougher in the Second Round against an Avalanche team that has been one of the league’s best all season. The Avalanche are one of the few teams in the NHL that can match the Blues’ offense, while also possessing an elite defense and an outstanding goalie.
Colorado swept the Blues in their playoff meeting a year ago.