By Patrick Kelly
With the NHL season coming to a close, the Blues are less than a week away from the playoffs. After a rocky middle of the season, the team has seemed to find their stride at the right time, beating out the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes for the fourth and final spot in the Honda West. While their opponent isn’t decided yet, the Vegas Golden Knights hold a two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche, which has a game in hand. This will be an uphill climb for the Blues, regardless. While the Blues are 2-3-1 against the Knights, they have also hit their stride at the right time as they try and win a Stanley Cup in just their fourth season of existence. The Avalanche have also been trying to gain back ground after having some COVID problems that left several stars sidelined. Despite those setbacks, the Avalanche have some playoff experience under their belt now and they are ready for a deep run for the Cup.
While the Blues have been playing better there are still some glaring problems that need to be addressed before the postseason. The first being that the Blues seem to struggle putting together a full 60 minutes. While they have shown the heart to have strong third periods and in some cases come back in games, they usually have a moment when they fall apart right off the hop or in the second period where their play seems to lapse bit. This also comes with lack of shots at times which is very uncharacteristic of how the Blues play, usually holding the opposition to barely any shots for an elongated period of time.
The one bright spot that the Blues can hold onto entering the postseason is goaltender Jordan Binnington. When the team has faltered at times, he has been there to bail them out and at times been the best player on the ice for the Blues. Binnington had staggered a bit after the bubble exit and seemed to struggle to get into a groove to start the season. Not only has he seemed to have found it, but at times found a new level of a still-young goaltender. Binnington is the type of goalie that can steal a series, and while the team doesn’t have to play perfect in front of him, timely goals coupled with Binnington’s success could lead to a series tilting the Blues way
Regardless of who the Blues play they will be the underdogs in the series. Despite this, it seems like a spot the Blues like to be in with their backs against the wall. Along with that they will also be starting the series on the road and despite it being different this year with restrictions, it appears the Blues have still found their same success in opposing rinks.