The President’s Trophy came down to the final game of the West Division regular season, and the Colorado Avalanche (39-13-4) clinched the top spot on a tiebreaker with their 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in the regular season finale.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues (27-20-9) finished their season strong as well, closing the campaign with a pair of wins over the Minnesota Wild, first a 4-0 shutout then a comeback featuring seven unanswered goals to win 7-3.
In this Avalanche vs Blues series preview, I’ll break down all you need to know before Colorado and St. Louis take the ice, along with a winning pick for who will advance in the 2021 NHL Playoffs.
Avalanche vs Panthers Series Schedule
GAME ONE: Monday, May 17, 10:00 P.M.
GAME TWO: Wednesday, May 19, 10:30 P.M.
GAME THREE: Friday, May 21, 9:30 P.M.
GAME FOUR: Sunday, May 23, TBD
GAME FIVE*: Tuesday, May 25, TBD
GAME SIX*: Thursday, May 27, TBD
GAME SEVEN*: Saturday, May 29, TBD
* = if needed, all times Eastern
Avalanche vs Blues Regular Season Results
January 13: Blues 4, Avalanche 1
January 15: Avalanche 8, Blues 0
April 2: Avalanche 3, Blues 2
April 3: Avalanche 2, Blues 1
April 14: Avalanche 4, Blues 3
April 22: Avalanche 4, Blues 2
April 24: Blues 5, Avalanche 3
April 26: Blues 4, Avalanche 1
Devan Dubnyk (traded to Avalanche at deadline): 6-11-2, 3.20 GAA, .895 save percentage, one shutout
Philipp Grubauer: 30-9-1, 1.95 GAA, .922 save percentage, seven shutouts
Jonas Johansson: 5-1-1, 2.06 GAA, .913 save percentage, one shutout
Jordan Binnington: 18-14-8, 2.65 GAA, .910 save percentage
Ville Husso: 9-6-1, 3.21 GAA, .893 save percentage, one shutout
Bowen Byram – upper body, expected return: May 19
Matt Calvert – undisclosed, expected return: May 17
Devan Dubnyk – COVID-19 protocol, expected return: May 19
Pavel Francouz – lower body surgery, expected return: September 2021
Erik Johnson – upper body, expected return: May 19
Logan O’Connor – lower body surgery, expected return: June 19
Conor Timmins – ankle, expected return: May 17
David Perron – COVID-19 protocol, expected return: May 17
Oskar Sundqvist – leg, expected return: September 2021
Vladimir Tarasenko – lower body, expected return: May 17
Nathan Walker – COVID-19 protocol, expected return: May 17
Jake Walman COVID-19 protocol, expected return: May 19
Special Teams Stats
Power Play: 22.7% (47/207), eighth in NHL, three shorthanded goals against
Penalty Kill: 83.1% (147/177), eighth in NHL, one shorthanded goal
Power Play: 23.2% (36/155), sixth in NHL, one shorthanded goal against
Penalty Kill: 77.8% (133/171), 25th in NHL, six shorthanded goals
Avalanche vs Blues Storylines
St. Louis’ leading scorer David Perron (19 goals, 39 assists) entered COVID-19 protocol Saturday, in what could be a crushing blow to the Blues’ playoff hopes. It is unknown if Perron was put into COVID-19 protocol as a result of a positive test or as a close contact. However, up against a skilled Colorado team which scored 3.52 goals per game (most in the league), the Blues need to score to keep up; missing Perron would seriously erode St. Louis’ chances to keep up offensively.
No team drew more penalties than the Avalanche this season (207). The next closest team was the Florida Panthers at 190. While their power play can be lethal, Colorado was also the fourth-most penalized team in the league.
Discipline will be a major factor, and this series could get chippy. St. Louis ranks 16th in the league with just over 22 hits per game. Colorado ranks dead last at 16.44 per game, though admittedly, it’s hard to generate hits when controlling the puck as often as the Avalanche.
This series will be Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly’s first playoff series against his former club. The Avalanche drafted O’Reilly 33rd overall in the 2009 draft. O’Reilly spent his first six seasons with Colorado but was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 2015.
Two of St. Louis’ three wins against Colorado this year came while Philipp Grubauer was in COVID-19 protocol and Devan Dubnyk was in net. Grubauer went 2-1-0 against the Blues this season with a 1.68 GAA, a .938 save percentage and a shutout.
Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon’s next playoff point will tie him with Claude Lemieux for the sixth-most playoff points in franchise history. In 40 games, he has 20 goals and 34 assists. He’s a long way off from Joe Sakic’s record (77 goals, 100 assists), but the Avalanche are built to be Cup contenders for the foreseeable future. MacKinnon could climb closer if Colorado goes on a deep run this season.
Colorado’s defensemen generate a ton of offense. Cale Makar (eight goals, 36 assists) is a strong Norris Trophy contender, while Samuel Girard (five goals, 27 assists) and Devon Toews (nine goals, 22 assists) are excellent contributors as well.
There’s really not a good chance for the Blues to win this series. They’re outmatched against Colorado in nearly every category, and on the season, they allowed exactly as many goals (167) as they scored. Without David Perron, that will only get worse.
I’ll be generous and give St. Louis one game, but this series has the potential to be a sweep. Shy of Jordan Binnington returning to 2019 Stanley Cup form, this postseason will likely end on a sour note.
SERIES PREDICTION: Colorado Avalanche in five games.
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