The St. Louis Blues finished tied at the top of the Western Conference, getting the second seed only by tiebreaker. Their reward is playing the best team in the NHL since January 15, the Minnesota Wild.
After falling to powerhouse Stanley Cup contenders, the Kings and Blackhawks in the first round in the past two years, the Blues can’t seem to catch a break. This year they’ll play the Wild, who seem to be catching fire at the right time.
Minnesota has seen a remarkable turnaround since acquiring goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The team was eight points out of a playoff spot and had lost 12 of 14 when Dubnyk made his first start. Since then, they’ve gone 28-9-3. The team was also active at the trade deadline, acquiring depth with forwards Chris Stewart and Sean Bergenheim, as well as veteran defenseman Jordan Leopold.
Minnesota made it to the second round of the playoffs last season, beating Colorado in seven games in the first round. They lost to the Blackhawks in round two.
Advancing past the first round is something the Blues have failed to do in two straight years despite finishing near the top of the standings. The Blues have lost in the last two first rounds in nearly identical fashion. They won the first two games at home, then collapsed and lost four straight to be eliminated.
Finishing near the top once again, the Blues are hoping to break the trend in 2015 and stay for a lengthy playoff run.
Let’s take a look at which areas this year’s series between St. Louis and Minnesota will be won.