Center Ryan Johansen plays against the Wild late in the season.
A 4-1 series win seems convincing. At first glance, you might think that. The Blues defeated the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals yesterday afternoon. Four to one is lopsided. On the surface, it seems the Blues made relatively quick work of the Wild.
But a closer look reveals the truth. The Blues were the fortunate recipients of outstanding goaltending from Jake Allen in Games 1-3, which the Blues won consecutively. They mustered little offense. Top forward Vladimir Tarasenko did not score until Game 5. The Wild outplayed the Blues for long stretches of the series. It was closer than the final outcome.
Now the Blues will face the momentous Predators, who swept top seed Chicago. They scored 13 goals in those 4 games and allowed only 3. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has a GAA of 0.70. That’s much stingier than Jake Allen’s 1.47 (which in its own right is stellar).
In th regular season, the Predators beat the Blues 3 out of 5 times. And in one of those victories, they hung a 6-spot on them, getting goals from Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen. The Predators’ offense is potent, more so than the Blues, and when you combine that with world-class goalie Rinne, it’ll make for a tough series.
The Blues weren’t largely expected to beat the Wild, just as the Preds weren’t expected to beat the ‘Hawks. So anything can happen in the playoffs, but the Blues have their work in front of them. The Blues are going to have to step it up in puck possession and in face offs. Having Stastny back will definitely help with both of those.
I pull for the Blues always, but this one will be challenging. Thanks for reading.