During the Stanley Cup playoffs a hot goaltender can steal a game and possibly even a series. The St. Louis Blues rode the strong play of Jordan Binnington to the Stanley Cup title a few years ago and the netminder had seemingly found the groove that placed him in the top-five in the Calder Trophy and Vezina Trophy voting in 2019. Binnington was 4-1 in five starts since replacing Ville Husso in Game 4 of the Minnesota series stopping 94.8 percent of the shots he faced. Binnington has been ruled out for the remainder of the series after getting run by Nazem Kadri early in Game 3, which the Colorado Avalanche won 5-2. The teams convene in Denver on Wednesday for Game 5 of their second round series.
The Stanley Cup playoff matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche takes place on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, from Ball Arena in Denver. BookMaker.eu will have odds for every game on the NHL Playoff schedule.
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It’s been a wild series so far and things will likely get nastier moving forward. St. Louis played two great defensive games against an explosive offensive club splitting the first two games. And they very easily could have swept those games if not for a Josh Manson OT winner in Game 1. And a big reason for their success was the play of Binnington, who had 51 saves in Game 1 with a 1.88 GAA and .953 save percentage in the first two contests. Only Kadri knows the true intention of his questionable yet un-penalized hit that injured Binnington in Game 3. We don’t know if the play was a series-changer, but it sure was a game-changer. The Blues had a 1-0 lead when the play occurred less than seven minutes into the first period.
After scoring four goals on 85 shots in the first two games, the Avalanche found some offense after Binnington exited. Still, the game was much closer than the 5-2 final. Colorado scored an empty-net goal and tallied once just before that when Husso was caught out of position after initially trying to get off the ice for an extra attacker. The three goals separating the teams in Games 2 and 3 is the largest margin in the six games played between the clubs this season. When the teams are almost even in a number of categories you can expect some close games. Colorado finished the regular season with 10 more points and scored one more goal (312-311). The Avalanche also won two of three regular season meetings and has outscored St. Louis 21-19 in the six meetings with the OVER at 4-2.
St. Louis Blues
The loss of Binnington is huge since he was in a zone this postseason. But Husso showed enough during the campaign that he took over the starting role and carried that into the playoffs. In 40 regular season games Husso was 25-7-6 with a 2.56 GAA and .919 save percentage, bettering those of Binnington.
But playoff hockey is different and anyone who has ever competed for Lord Stanley’s Cup will tell you the intensity is at another level. Husso and the Blues need to reach that level to snare a much-needed road win against the West’s No. 1 seed.
It doesn’t matter what a team did during the regular season, once the playoffs start it’s a clean stale. The difference in seeds is so miniscule that it isn’t a surprise to see a higher seed drop in the first or second round. Colorado escaped the first-round with little difficultly outscoring Nashville 21-9 in the four-game sweep. They had a scare in Game 2 of that series getting an overtime goal from Cale Makar to win it despite outshooting the Preds 51-26.
Colorado is living the good life in the postseason so much that when the offense gets shutdown Darcy Kuemper comes through. He has a 1.99 GAA and .926 save percentage to back an offense that leads the NHL in playoff scoring with 4.29 goals per game. Nathan MacKinnon has a point in every playoff game with a total of five goals and four assists and is tied for third on the club in playoff scoring.
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The big question for St. Louis is how Husso responds now that he’s thrust back into the starting role. He tossed a shutout in his first career playoff game then was riddled for nine goals in the next two before being lifted. He didn’t fare much better on Saturday giving up four goals on 23 shots after replacing Binnington. St. Louis is structurally sound and a few big stops from their goalie should restore his confidence. And their heavy game will take a toll on Colorado giving the Blues a big road win.
NHL Odds Prediction: Blues 4, Avalanche 3
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