Avs-Blues Preview: The better team, not the most-talented, will win

May 17, 2022, 6:33 AM

Nathan MacKinnon...

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The gateway to the West, the Western Finals, goes through Colorado.

Avalanche are heavy favorites against the Blues. That’s what Vegas says on the betting line. However, St. Louis s no Nashville.

The Blues are winners, and that’s huge deal in the playoffs. For example, see Tampa vs. Toronto in round one. Even with roster changes over last few years, the heart of the team is still beating.

The keys for a potential upset of the Avs by the Blues will be three things: Goaltending, special teams and forward depth.

Binnington or Husso: If neither one of the goaltenders is almost perfect, the Blues will struggle to win four games.

Is the Avs power play able to be stopped? Probably not. Keeping them to under 20% is a must, however, for St. Louis.

The Avs have top-end talent, some of the best in the NHL. However, the Blues have more depth at forward. The third-line matchup may change the result of series, a positive for the Blues.

The Avalanche are scary on the offensive front, even more so with best player in the playoffs so far in Cale Makar. Many fans would be surprised the Blues are better in several key categories during the regular season, including goals scored (309 to 308), power-play percentage (27% to 24%), penalty kill (84% to 78%) and faceoffs won (50% to 47%).

So this isn’t a mismatch. Not by a long shot.



First Line

As much of a fan of Ryan O’Reilly I may be, there is no question here. If the Avs get into trouble, they can also go back with old faithful Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen line.

Advantage: Avalanche


Third Line

The Blues have more depth, period. You need four lines, or at least three, to win in the postseason and I don’t trust the bottom six for the burgundy and blue. St. Louis’s depth makes for an argument of which technically is their third line, but for this comparison, let’s do Buchnevich, Barbashev and Kyrou. The right wing here is the key, either Kyrou or Tarasenko, both bring 48 assists to the line. Left wings are a push, both Buchnevich for the Blues, and Andre Burakovsky for the Avs are good in the regular season but neither are Conn Smythe favorites.

Advantage: Blues



Let’s say I don’t trust anyone here, which is not a good sign for either. Binnington has never been a big numbers guy in the regular season, but he comes big in the playoffs and is able to carry a team. Darcy Kuemper has been good, but only time will tell if he is a primetime goalie.

Advantage: Push


Defensive Depth

I hated the Avs depth last season on defense. Hate is a strong word, but they lost to Vegas because of it. This year is different. All six on the backend have been good, each bringing an element to the lineup. The Blues are probably underrated in this heavier and different style, but will still have its hands full versus a world-class skill set in Colorado.

Makar has been so good and so impressive in the first round, he can win a series on his own. That’s a big statement, and even more so for a player that is outside the net, but he is that impressive. Like his skating style, Makar’s defensive game and sense has made enormous strides in the last 12 months. His quickness to close time and space between himself and the puck has become elite, making him the best overall player in the 2022 playoffs so far.

Advantage: Avalanche


Key Players

St. Louis: David Perron, Jordan Binnington, Vladmir Tarasenko

Colorado: Nazem Kadri, Darcy Kuemper


Series Winner

The Avs should win, for they have the better skill set, but who is the better team? Talented lineups win Presidents’ Trophies; teams win the Cup. Colorado hasn’t had that makeup that since 2001. Toronto lost Game 7 to Tampa Bay this week, not because lack of talent, but they lost to one of the best teams in last 40 years. The Blues have been there and done it. Therefore, the St. Louis Blues are the better team.

Advantage: Blues



Valeri Nichushkin...

Will Petersen

Valeri Nichushkin appears to be back in Russia based on photo

It's the first time Nichushkin has been seen in any public forum since leaving the Avs before Game 3 in their series against Seattle

1 day ago

Adam Silver...

Jake Shapiro

Adam Silver knows ongoing Altitude/Comcast dispute is an issue needing a fix

Twice in two days NBA commissioner Adam Silver took to a microphone to voice his thoughts on the ongoing Comcast dispute with Altitude TV

6 days ago

Valeri Nichushkin...

Will Petersen

9NEWS obtains body camera video of incident involving Nichushkin

Seattle PD muted the audio at several key moments that could detail more of Nichushkin's involvement in the whole ordeal

7 days ago

Andrew Cogliano...

Will Petersen

A few weeks after fracturing his neck, Andrew Cogliano goes to Nuggets game

It's a great sign that Cogliano was out and about, after he missed the Avalanche's Game 7 loss thanks to the horrific injury on a very sketchy hit

21 days ago

Gabriel Landeskog...

Will Petersen

A day after surgery, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog posts positive update

We'll see if Landeskog can ever be the same player again, or even get on the ice at all, but it looks like the captain is taking everything in stride

28 days ago

Gabriel Landeskog Valeri Nichushkin...

Mike Evans

The Avalanche face huge uncertainty heading into offseason

With two key players becoming huge question marks and a farm system that hasn't produced of late, Colorado might become a one-hit wonder

29 days ago

Avs-Blues Preview: The better team, not the most-talented, will win