Minnesota Wild’s Road
The Minnesota Wild had a season to remember. They registered 49 wins, 106 regular season points, and a 12 game win streak. After a record breaking regular season, the Wild are starting to gel again. With the franchise record in wins and points, the Wild are feeling good entering the postseason. In a 3-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes to wrap up the 2016-2017 regular season, the Wild clinched the number two seed in the West.
St. Louis Blues’ Road
For the second year in three seasons, The Wild will face a familiar foe, in the St. Louis Blues. However this time, they will have to face ex Wild coach, Mike Yeo. Ever since Yeo took over the Blues, they have had the second best record in the NHL; allowing a league best 1.87 goals per game, and a league leading 88.5 percent penalty kill. The Blues finished the regular season with a 46-29-7 record along with 97 points. Yeo coached the Wild for five seasons before being fired last year. The Blues went 3-2-1 vs the Wild in the regular season. The Blues are definitely looking for revenge after the Wild knocked them out in six games in the 2015 playoffs.
Devan Dubnyk has led the Wild the whole season, and he must do the same in the playoffs for this team to go far. After Dubnyk cooled down in the month of March, he still finished the year with many accomplishments. He shattered the franchise record with 40 wins this regular season, finished 40-19-5 with a 2.25 GAA and .923 SV%. But Dubnyk’s career playoff stats are 6-10 with a 2.84 GAA and .896 SV%.
St. Louis’s X Factor
It going to be the battle of the two goaltenders. Jake Allen has been the league’s hottest goaltender since former Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was fired. Allen’s regular season stats have him at 33-20, with a 2.42 GAA and .915 SV%. Allen has also struggled in the playoffs, going 3-5 with a 2.29 GA and .902 SV%.
How Minnesota Will Win
Top scores Nino Niederreiter, Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund have been getting hot and need to continue putting pucks in the back of the net. Devan Dubnyk has looked much better over the past few games. The Wild ended the season on a four-game winning streak and head back to the postseason for a fifth straight year. If those three players have a solid series, watch out.
How St. Louis Will Win
The one advantage the Blues have over the Wild is Mike Yeo knowing most of the players on the Wild. The Blues will need Vladimir Taresenko to continue his regular season dominance. Winger Alexander Steen will also need to use his speed and skill to open up the ice for others. If Taresenko has a big series, the Blues can give the Wild all they can handle.
Who Should Win
The Wild beating the Blues in five games. The Wild have too much scoring, more depth and has a stronger defense. If Dubnyk plays just decent, the Wild will run away with this series. If the Wild can contain Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen, the Blues will not win this series. The bottom line is, whatever team’s goalie outperforms the other will win this series.
I will be headed to Newark Airport Wednesday morning to fly out to Minnesota for game’s one and two at the Xcel Energy Center. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]