NHL Playoff Predictions: Minnesota vs. St. Louis

Is this the most underrated matchup in the West? The Mike Yeo redemption tour runs through Minnesota as he looks to upset his former team. The Wild versus the Blues could really go any direction. Just how close is this matchup? Let’s crunch the numbers!

CENTRAL DIVISION

2. MINNESOTA WILD vs. 3. ST. LOUIS BLUES

MINNESOTA:
49-25-8 106 PTS (5th in NHL)
Goals For – 266 (2nd)
Goals Against – 208 (7th)
Last 10: 5-3-2 (4 Game Winning Streak)

ST. LOUIS:
46-29-7 99 PTS (10th in NHL)
Goals For – 235 (12th)
Goals Against – 218 (12th)
Last 10: 7-1-2 (3 Game Winning Streak)

If the Chicago – Nashville matchup is the battle of the slumps, this one features two of the hotter teams down the stretch battling it out. Minnesota scored the 2nd most amount of goals in the league, which may be a surprise to most, while also surrendering one of the smaller amounts in the NHL thanks to another standout season from goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The Blues also put up some respectable numbers and finished the season strong despite the fact that have key injuries to Paul Stastny and Robby Fabbri.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

MINNESOTA:
Power Play – 20.98% (9th)
Penalty Kill – 82.95% (8th)

ST. LOUIS:
Power Play – 21.3% (8th)
Penalty Kill – 84.8% (3rd)

This is the best special teams matchup in the Western Conference, with each of their power play and penalty kills in the top 10. If one falters, the other team will be there to destroy their opposition, but at the same time, one is going to have to give. Will St. Louis’ power play reign supreme? Or can Minnesota get anything going against the 2nd best penalty kill in the playoffs? Whoever wins the special teams battle will win this series.
Advantage: STL

GETTING THE PUCK ON NET:

MINNESOTA:
Shots For: 30.8/game (10th)
Shots Against: 30.0/game (14th)
Shooting %: 10.4% (2nd)

ST. LOUIS:
Shots For: 28.4/game (26th)
Shots Against: 28.4/game (6th)
Shooting %: 10.0% (6th)

Minnesota likes a high shooting game, and considering they have the 2nd highest shooting percentage in the league (behind Washington), they seem to benefit from the high shot totals. St. Louis are again, the opposite, with more of a defensive game that limits the shots of both teams, even though they do score on 10% of their shots. Jake Allen has been good enough this season, but he will need to be ready for this high scoring, high shooting team if St. Louis can make this a series.
Advantage: MIN

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Oct. 23rd – 3-2 STL
Nov. 26th – 4-3 STL (SO)
Dec. 11th – 3-1 MIN
Jan 26th – 5-1 MIN
Mar. 7th – 2-1 STL

INJURIES:

MINNESOTA:
Jared Spurgeon – Day-To-Day (Lower Body)

ST. LOUIS:
Paul Stastny – Day-To-Day (unsure of when he’ll be ready) (Lower Body)
Robert Bortuzzo – Day-To-Day (unsure of when he’ll be ready) (Upper Body)
Robby Fabbri – Out for season (Knee)

SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES CST):
Game 1: Wednesday, April 12th: 7:30 PM (Sportsnet 360, NBCSN)
Game 2: Friday, April 14th: 6:00 PM (Sportsnet 360, NBCSN)
Game 3: Sunday, April 16th: 1:00 PM (Sportsnet, NBCSN)
Game 4: Wednesday, April 19th: 7:30 PM (Sportsnet 360, NBCSN)
Game 5: Saturday, April 22nd: TBD*
Game 6: Monday, April 24th: TBD*
Game 7: Wednesday, April 26th: TBD*
*If necessary

cut

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The St. Louis Blues made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, going through powerhouses Chicago and Dallas on the way to losing to the Sharks, while the Wild last 6 games against the Stars. This year, it is the Wild who have the best chance to come out of this division and meet (potentially) another California opponent for the Western Conference crown. On the shoulders of Devan Dubnyk and the offensive depth under Bruce Boudreau, Minnesota will win this series but the St. Louis Blues are going to push them to the brink. Well, sort of. Minnesota wins this series in 6 games.  

*All stats courtest of http://www.hockey-reference.com

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