The Colorado Avalanche face some challenges against the St. Louis Blues, but ultimate victory should be theirs.
The Colorado Avalanche will face the St. Louis Blues in Round 2 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Indeed, now that the first round is finally finished, we even know a start date: Tuesday, May 17.
The Colorado Avalanche have been off for a week already. They swept the Nashville Predators, with the final game being on May 9. There’s always the worry about rust when a team hasn’t played that long. However, it also gave the players time to heal up, especially goalie Darcy Kuemper. By all account, his scary eye injury has healed up enough that he’s definitely good to go for Game 1.
What’s more, the St. Louis Blues have been off for four days. So, hopefully the “rust factor” isn’t really going to favor them.
Talking about injuries, fingers crossed, the Avalanche head into the series completely healthy. It’s a May miracle. The team has been so bitten by injuries the last few years that they hardly know what to do with themselves when everyone is available to play.
That level of availability means the coaching stuff has some fun — tough, but fun — decisions to make. Instead of scraping together the best available, they can assemble the best possible machine to face the Blues.
Luckily, St. Louis can’t boast the same. They’re missing one of their prime defensemen in Tory Krug, who’s out with a lower-body injury. You’ve got to hope they’re also a little extra banged up after playing a dirty Minnesota Wild team.
Now, what are some of the challenges the Colorado Avalanche face with this particular team?
St. Louis Style
Well, one is that the Blues like to play a heavy game. They’ve got some high-end scoring ability — any team with Vladimir Tarasenko is going to be able to skate and score. However, they are not known for being a fast-skating team.
The Blues rely instead on their defense and their general grit. They like to shut opponents down. And get under their skin.
The key for Colorado is to impose their own style into each game. They need to force the game wide open. There are very few teams in the NHL that can keep up with Colorado in an open-ice game. St. Louis ain’t one of them.
As for the grit, hey, this isn’t the Colorado Avalanche team of yesteryear. They have some big bruisers they can suit up if they need to make a statement beyond the scoresheet.
The old adage goes that a hot goalie can steal a series and even a Stanley Cup. This very Blues team proved that in 2019 when Jordan Binnington, against all expectations, got hot. He lead them straight to Stanley Cup victory.
Binnington had a good series against the Wild. He put up an impressive .943 save percentage with a 1.67 goals against average. There were times he looked unstoppable.
We are very glad to have Darcy Kuemper back, but that eye injury couldn’t have done his head space any good. Luckily, unlike Binnington, he doesn’t appear to be one of those mental goalies.
That will be the key for Colorado in this series — getting into Binnington’s head. He can be as hyper-focused as any NHL goalie. However, if the Avs can get under his skin — and they’ve done so before — they might just get him off his game. They key is to give him a front-row seat to the fast-paced, skilled game the Avalanche are known for.
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Ultimately, the Colorado Avalanche are the favored team in this series. If they impose their style on each game and keep the dreaded second-round curse out of their heads, they should be victorious.