The NHL keeps its packed action going on Sunday with five matchups up on the board. One of these games will be between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams will play the second round robin game of the restart. This game will drop the puck at around 6:30 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
St. Louis earned a record of 42-19-10 throughout the regular season, which had them sitting in first place of the Western Conference. The Blues were on a hot streak before the season paused, winning ten of their last twelve games. St. Louis will look to earn a huge win over the Avalanche as they battle for seeding on Sunday night.
The Avalanche earned a record of 42-20-8 before the regular season paused. Colorado was sitting right behind the Blues for the top seed in the Western Conference. The Avalanche had won nine of their last twelve games before the halt. Colorado will look to jump the Blues in the standings with a big win on Sunday night.
These two teams were neck and neck as the playoff push heightened. The Blues and the Avalanche will kick off the Western Conference round robin games as they battle for a good chance at the top spot in the West. St. Louis and Colorado met up four times throughout the regular season, so they will have a good feel for each other coming into this one.
The first meeting of the season series was hosted by St. Louis on October 21. Nathan MacKinnon scored the lone goal for the Avalanche, which was not enough. Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and two assists, while David Perron and Brayden Schenn both scored as well. Jordan Binnington stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced in the 3-1 win for the Blues.
The second meeting stayed in St. Louis on December 16. Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen both scored for the Avalanche, but once again it was not enough. David Perron had a hat trick for the Blues. Ryan O’Reilly and Oskar Sundqvist both had two assists. Jordan Binnington stopped 26 of the 28 shots against him in a 5-2 win for St. Louis.
The third game shifted back to Colorado on January 2. Robert Thomas scored twice for the Blues, but it would not be enough. Samuel Girard had four assists, while Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and three assists. Nazem Kadri scored twice, and Cale Maker had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche. Colorado was able to bounce back with a huge 7-3 win.
The most recent game of the season series was in Colorado again on January 18. David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo both had a goal and an assist for the Blues, but St. Louis still fell short. Andre Burakovsky tallied up two goals, while Nathan MacKinnon and Ian Cole both had two points as well. The Avalanche were able to tie up the season series with a solid 5-3 win.
The Blues power play was strong this season. St. Louis was able to capitalize on 49 of their 202 power play chances, which is a 24.3 percent success rate. The Blues penalty kill was not quite as good though. St. Louis allowed their opponents to score 42 goals on 203 opportunities, which gave them a 79.3 percent penalty kill on the season.
Colorado’s power play struggled finding consistency at time this season. The Avalanche tallied up 46 goals on 241 power play chances, which is a 19.1 percent power play. Colorado’s penalty kill was also average this season. The Avalanche held opposing teams to 39 goals on 210 power play attempts, which is an 81.4 percent kill rate.
The Blues had the better power play this season, while Colorado had a better penalty kill. I still believe that St. Louis holds a slight edge with their exceptional power play. The Avalanche have a very strong team though that could get the power play kicking at any time. If Colorado can solve some power play struggles in the restart, it could push them past the Blues.
Jordan Binnington will likely get the nod in crease for this matchup. Binnington earned a record of 30-13-7 throughout his 50 starts this season. He put up a .912 save percentage and a GAA of 2.56. Binnington has not faltered much, but had two rough games in Colorado this season. He will look to shake those off to help give the Blues a nice win in round robin play.
The Avalanche have a nice issue in front of them of whether or not to go with Philipp Grubauer or Pavel Francouz. Grubauer earned a save percentage of .916 with a GAA of 2.63 through 36 games this season. Francouz posted a .923 save percentage and a GAA of 2.41 in 24 games this season. Grubauer is a bit more experienced, which makes me believe he will get the start in this one.
These two teams have a great starter and backup in net. With Jake Allen having a nice season as backup to Binnington, both teams will likely give their backup a game in the three round robin matchups. The Avalanche will use this time to help them decide who they are rolling with in Game 1 of the round of sixteen. Grubauer has more playoff experience under his belt, and I think that will get him the start in this one.
These two teams are really well matched and will be two great contenders for the Stanley Cup this season. St. Louis has a chance to go back to back, while the Avalanche want to finally break through with their roster. With the Avalanche having plenty of rest over the long hiatus, I think their offense being back to healthy could help them earn a nice win to start out round robin play.
BetOnline has Colorado listed as a slight favorite at -107 against the money line. These two teams split the season series, winning both of their home games. Now this matchup will be in Edmonton at a neutral site, which will help truly show who has the edge. I like how Colorado looked in their exhibition game and I am backing them in this one.