Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NHL playoff preview: Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues

The 2017 NHL playoffs are almost underway! So, I'll preview each series. Today, I'll be previewing the matchup of teams number 2 and 3 in the Central division. That is the Minnesota Wild (2) against the St. Louis Blues (3). First, let's look at the teams.

   Minnesota Wild
In their first year under head coach Bruce Boudreau, the Wild made the playoffs again, this time in a divisional spot. On defense, they have star Ryan Suter. Suter joins with Jonas Brodin, Matthew Dumba and Jared Spurgeon to form a strong defensive core. On offense, Zach Parise leads the charge. Eric Staal and Nino Niederreiter join him on the top line. Newly acquired Martin Hanzal and Charlie Coyle are 2nd liners being forced to play 3rd line minutes. Mikko Koivu is a solid captain. Devan Dubnyk is a Vezina caliber goalie.

   St. Louis Blues
They traded Kevin Shattenkirk. But, they still have good defensemen in captain Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Colton Parayko. On offense, they might be missing Robby Fabbri, but they can still score. Paul Stastny should return from injury. Jaden Schwartz and Vladimar Tarasenko are two good first line wingers. Don't forget about Alex Steen. Jake Allen is a little unexperienced for a goalie, but he should be fine.

    My prediction: St. Louis Blues
This is the third NHL team Bruce Boudreau has been the head coach of. The other two, the Washington Capitals and the Anaheim Ducks, were great in the regular season but struggled in the playoffs under Boudreau. the Blues made it to the Conference finals last year, taking down the then defending champs (the Chicago Blackhawks) and the Dallas Stars, who were the best team in the west that year.

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