The NHL is set up with a strong two games on August 21. The first round is coming to an end and teams are now all on the brink of elimination. One of these games will be between the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks. This game will drop the puck at around 9:45 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
St. Louis finished out the regular season with a record of 42-19-10, which had them in first place of the Western Conference. The Blues could not find their game in the round robin, going 0-2-1, which dropped them to the fourth seed in the West. St. Louis is now down 3-2 in this series with Vancouver and will look to force a Game 7.
The Canucks had put up a record of 36-27-6 before the season came to a halt, which had them in seventh place of the Western Conference. Vancouver met up with the Minnesota Wild in the Qualifying round, where they won in four games. The Canucks now have the Stanley Cup Champions on the brink and will look to finish them off to move on to the next round.
These two teams have played in a very back and forth series so far, which should lead to another exciting one in Game 6. The intensity has increased as the series has gone on and it should keep up that trend in Game 6. Both teams have battled it out so far, which should lead to a great conclusion in this series, whether it is Game 6 or Game 7.
Game 1 of this series was back on August 12. David Perron and Jaden Schwartz scored for St. Louis, but it was not enough. Bo Horvat tallied up two goals, while J.T. Miller scored a goal and an assist. Brock Boeser and Tanner Pearson both had two assists in Vancouver’s dominant win. Jacob Markstrom stopped 29 of 31 shots to help propel the Canucks to a 5-3 win.
The second game of the series was on August 14. David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo both had two assists, but it was still not enough. Bo Horvat scored two goals, including the game winner in overtime. Elias Pettersson had a goal and an assist to help Vancouver win. Markstrom turned away 34 of 37 shots as the Canucks won 4-3.
Game 3 of this series was on August 16. Elias Pettersson scored a goal and an assist as the Canucks tied it up late in the second period. Ryan O’Reilly finished with two assists, including an assist on Brayden Schenn’s overtime winner. Jake Allen stopped 39 of 41 shots as St. Louis made the series 2-1 with a 3-2 win.
The fourth game of this series was the next day on August 17. J.T. Miller found the back of the net again for Vancouver, but it was not enough. Ryan O’Reilly had two goals and an assist, while Alex Pietrangelo had a goal and an assist. Jake Allen finished with 22 saves on 23 shots as the Blues tied up the series with a 3-1 win.
Game 5 was an exciting matchup on August 19. Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford all scored as St. Louis jumped out to a 3-1 lead. J.T. Miller and Jake Virtanen both had a goal and an assist to help the Canucks come back. Tyler Motte scored his second goal of the game to help lead Vancouver to a 4-3 win to take the series lead back.
St. Louis had a strong special team unit throughout the regular season. The Blues capitalized on 24.3 percent of their power play chances, while killing off 79.3 percent of the power plays against them. St. Louis has scored on 20 percent of their power play chances in the playoffs. The Blues penalty kill has only stopped their opponent’s 75.7 percent of the time though.
The Canucks also had a strong special team unit this season. Vancouver’s power play was succeeding on 24.2 percent of their opportunities, while killing off 80.5 percent of opposing teams power play chances. The Canucks have scored on 25 percent of their power play chances in the playoffs. Vancouver has also killed off 80 percent of the power plays against them in the postseason.
Vancouver has a slight edge in this matchup when it comes to special teams in this series. The Canucks will look to use this edge on special teams to try and close out this series. The Blues power play has stepped up as this series has gone along. Now St. Louis needs to get the penalty killers playing a bit better to tie up this series.
Jake Allen will likely get the start in the crease for the Blues in Game 6. Allen earned a record of 12-6-3 throughout the regular season. He put up a save percentage of .912 and a 2.56 GAA throughout those starts. In the playoffs, Allen has started four games, putting up a .939 save percentage and a GAA of 1.86.
Jacob Markstrom will get the nod in net for Vancouver in this matchup. Markstrom finished out the regular season with a record of 23-16-4. He posted a save percentage of .918 and a GAA of 2.75 throughout those starts. Since the postseason started, Markstrom has earned a .927 save percentage and a 2.48 GAA to help push the Canucks one game from the second round.
These two goalies have played well for their respective teams. Allen has done a great job since taking over for a struggling Jordan Binnington. Markstrom has started in all of Vancouver’s games so far. Both goalies will look to find a groove early in Game 6 to try and get in a nice rhythm. If either goalie can take over, it could be what gives their team the win.
These two teams have gone back and forth this series, with the Canucks being the team on top right now. Vancouver now has the tough job of finishing off the Stanley Cup Champions. The Canucks have a solid team, but I expect St. Louis to bounce back from their Game 5 loss. The Blues have a lot of veteran players who have been in this position before, while the Canucks have a much younger team.
BetOnline has St. Louis listed as a -129 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Blues will win this game around 56.3 percent of the time. I like St. Louis a lot in this matchup, so I believe that they have a lot of value. The Blues have bounced back after falling down 0-2 in this series and I think they will force a Game 7 on Friday night.