The NHL is set up with another solid night of action on Friday. Five games will be up on the board throughout August 14. One of these matchups will be between the Vancouver Canucks and the St. Louis Blues. I expect these two teams to come out strong in Game 2 to try and earn a big win. This game will drop the puck at around 6:30 PM Eastern time on NHLN.
The Canucks earned a record of 36-27-6 in the regular season, which had them in seventh place of the Western Conference. Vancouver met up with the Minnesota Wild in the Qualifying round, where they knocked off the Wild in four games. The Canucks lost the first game of the best of five series, but have not lost since. Vancouver will look to keep it rolling against the Blues.
St. Louis earned the top seed in the Western Conference this season, with a record of 42-19-10. The Blues went 0-2-1 throughout the round robin play, which dropped them to the fourth seed in the West. St. Louis continues to stay winless after dropping the first game of this series. I expect the defending Stanley Cup Champions to bounce back in Game 2 though as they pick up their intensity.
These two teams met in Game 1 of the series on Wednesday night. Vancouver will look to build off of their win in Game 1, while the Blues are looking to settle into the series. St. Louis has done better throughout the regular season, but are still hunting for their first win since the restart. I believe that the Blues have a chance to bounce back in this one.
The Canucks and the Blues met up three times throughout the regular season. St. Louis hosted the first matchup on October 17. The Blues jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but goals by J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat tied it up late. Josh Leivo scored the game winner in the sixth round of the shootout. Thatcher Demko stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced in route to a 4-3 shootout win for the Canucks.
The second game of the season series shifted to Vancouver on November 5. Tyler Bozak opened up the scoring for the Blues, but it was Quinn Hughes who tied it up late in the third period again. Jaden Schwartz scored the game winner in overtime to give the Blues the win. Jordan Binnington stopped 33 of 34 shots as St. Louis won 2-1 in overtime.
The third game of the regular season series stayed in Vancouver on January 27. Zach Sanford opened up the scoring for the Blues. J.T. Miller scored twice in the second period to give the Canucks the lead. Both Chris Tanev and Jake Virtanen earned two assists to help propel Vancouver to the win. Thatcher Demko finished with 36 saves on 37 shots as the Canucks earned a 3-1 win.
Game 1 of this series was on August 12. St. Louis kept the game close, finishing the second period tied 2-2. The Canucks broke through in the third period though to earn the win. Bo Horvat scored twice, while J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist. Brock Boeser and Tanner Pearson finished with two assists. Jacob Markstrom stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced as the Canucks won 5-2 in Game 1.
The Canucks had a strong special team performance throughout the season. Vancouver capitalized on 24.2 percent of their chances, while killing off 80.5 percent of the penalties against them. The Canucks have been stronger on special teams since the playoffs started. Vancouver has scored on 28 percent of their man advantages and have killed off 84 percent of the power plays against them.
St. Louis had done solid on special teams throughout the regular season. The Blues finished with a power play percentage of 24.3 percent, while killing off 79.3 percent of the penalties against them. St. Louis has struggled to find rhythm on special teams since the restart. The Blues have a power play success rate of 13.3 percent and a kill rate of 72.7 percent.
Vancouver has done much better on special teams throughout the restart. St. Louis has struggled on special teams so far, but I expect them to clean that up a bit as the series goes along. The Blues were not playing with the most intensity in the round robin, but I expect them to pick it up as this series goes along. St. Louis will look to pick up their game in this matchup to avoid a 2-0 deficit in the series.
Jacob Markstrom will get the start in the crease for Vancouver in this matchup. Markstrom had earned a record of 23-16-4 throughout the regular season. He finished out the season with a save percentage of .918 and a 2.75 GAA. In the playoffs, Markstrom has earned a .928 save percentage and a GAA of 2.21. If Markstrom can keep these stats up, it will provide difficulty for the Blues.
Jordan Binnington will likely get the nod in net for St. Louis in Game 2 of this series. Binnington had a strong regular season, posting a record of 30-13-7 through his starts. He earned a .912 save percentage and a GAA of 2.56. In the playoffs, Binnington has struggled a lot. He has put up a save percentage of .867 and a 4.46 GAA.
The Blues need a better performance from Binnington in this series if they want to tie it up. St. Louis could go with Jake Allen in Game 2 as well, who stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced in his only start. Vancouver needs Markstrom to keep up his strong play as they try and get a 2-0 series lead in this one. I expect St. Louis’ goaltending to bounce back in this one after falling apart in the third in Game 1.
St. Louis is coming off their fourth straight loss since entering the NHL restart. The Blues have not looked like the dominant team that was close to locking up the top spot back in March. I expect St. Louis to find their game soon though. If the Blues can get some steady play in net and step up on special teams, St. Louis can earn a big win to tie up this series.
BetOnline has St. Louis listed as a -134 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Blues will win this game around 57.3 percent of the time. I like St. Louis to win this game, but the money line does not have a lot of value. I like the Blues to come out dominant in this one, which makes the -1 ½ at +180 spread appealing. I think St. Louis will finally find their stride to tie this series up.