Buckle up because this is gonna be one heck of a series. I don’t see a more even matchup in this 2nd round than the Blues and Nashville. The depth of the both teams forward groups is impressive. Both defenses are probably #1 and #2 in the league. Along with the goaltending. Allen had a .956 SV% and a 1.47 GAA. While that’s impressive, Rinne was even better with a .976 SV% and a miniscule 0.70 GAA. Allen did face more shots than Rinne in the first round but there is no doubting how phenomenal Rinne was against Chicago. Giving up only 3 goals against a team as skillful as Chicago is very impressive.
No doubt sweeping a team as good as Chicago is impressive, but they just didn’t play well. They were letting the Predators go right to the middle sometimes untouched and that just makes it too easy. While you have to give credit to Nashville for this, Chicago has always been a top competitor and has always gotten the respect around the league and from other teams. They seemed to be caught off guard when Nashville was giving no respect to them. The Hawks were not ready for this series and they looked ahead to the next series and that is why they lost this series in such an embarrassing fashion. They weren’t expecting for Nashville to come out like they did. The Preds did not back down from Chicago. They were not intimidated one bit and I think that is what caught the Hawks off guard.
The Blues beat the Minnesota Wild in 5 games in a tough series that was closer than it looked. That is impressive considering how well the Wild were actually playing. The Blues got dominated in the faceoff circle and in possession but the Blues were missing Paul Stastny for the first 4 games. Any team that is missing their #1 center is most likely going to be hurting in some areas like the faceoff circle. That is why the Wild had so much possession and such a lopsided shot advantage. They were winning most of the face-offs and usually when you do that you’re going to have more of the possession. Getting Stastny certainly helped out considering the Blues scored 4 goals in his return. Not only did they score 4 goals but Tarasenko, who was previously held goalless for the first 4 games, pocketed his first of the series early in game 5. I don’t think that is a coincidence either. Barbashev played well when he was in the lineup but lets face it, he is not Paul Stastny. At least not yet. Stastny is the Blues best faceoff man and can play in all situations. Penalty kill, Power play, offensive and defensive zone. He is a valuable player that the Blues are definitely glad to have back along as myself and I’m sure every other Blues fan.
No one has had a better record than the Blues since Feb. 1(29-6-2). They are also #1 in goals-against average of 1.84 per game, save percentage of .940, goal differential of +36, penalty kill rate of 88%, and a road record of 17-4-1 since then as well. That is also when Mike Yeo took over as head coach.
This is gonna be a very tight and low scoring series. The advantage the Blues may have is their size at defense and the Preds do not have a Vladimir Tarasenko. The Predators largest defensemen would be the 5th largest on our team. That being said, they do have a more offensively skilled defense than the Blues have. These teams matchup evenly in just about every aspect but I’m gonna go with the Blues in 7. I think every game is gonna be a one goal game, unless you count a empty-netter or two. This is gonna be a great series and I can’t wait for it to get started!