The St. Louis Blues, winners of the Central Division and second place overall in the Western Conference, will host the Minnesota Wild in their first round Stanley Cup Playoff series. The Blues topped the Wild 4-2 on Saturday afternoon and will next play game one on Thursday at 8:30 CT.
Rest of the series schedule:
GAME 2: SAT APR 18, 2:00 PM CT
GAME 3: AT MIN MON APR 20, 7:00 PM CT
GAME 4: AT MIN WED APR 22, 8:30 PM CT
GAME 5: AT STL FRI APR 24, TBD
GAME 6: AT MIN SUN APR 26, TBD
GAME 7: AT STL WED APR 29, TBD
The Blues won five of their final six games this season to clinch the Central Division. Last year, they dropped their final six games and fell to second place in the division where they were bumped out in the first round by Chicago in six games. This year the Blues face the resurgent Wild, who will ride the back of their goalie Devan Dubnyk.
The Wild are the hottest team in the league since Jan. 15th with 59 points. Minnesota was eight points out of a playoff spot when they acquired Dubnyk in a trade with Arizona. The team went 28-9-3 and made the playoffs by five points. Dubynk in that time, went 27-9-2 and has been the work horse with a 1.78 GAA.
After the Blues were eliminated by Chicago, the Wild were knocked out in the second round last year by the Blackhawks. This is Minnesota’s fourth straight year in the postseason.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has a decision to make at the goalie position. Brian Elliott played strong all year, but Jake Allen was hot down the stretch. Last year, the Blues thought they had their answer with Ryan Miller. Before that Jaroslav Halak and Elliott.
Elliott has 14 games of playoff experience with the Blues, compared to one by Allen, but he has been beaten by the Kings and goalie Jonathan Quick in 2012 and 2013.
A big boost for the Blues offensively is the return of Vladimir Tarasenko. He scored in his return to the lineup on Saturday and is the Blues leader in goal scorer, points and +/-.