ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The St. Louis Blues have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a sixth consecutive year. The road to the cup begins Wednesday night in Minnesota, where St. Louis will face the Wild at 8:30 p.m.
St. Louis finished third place in the Central Division with 99 points, behind Minnesota and Chicago with 106 and 109 points respectively. The Blues hopped over Nashville, to escape the Wild Card designation and having to play the Blackhawks in the first round.
With the bracket set, our Tom Ackerman was with Chris Kerber Monday morning to preview the Blues vs Wild first-round matchup. And here are some his thoughts:
Related story: Blues Visit Wild For Game 1 Of First Round Playoff Series
Midwest teams, and its fans, will just have to get used to playing way too early or way too late. And the 8:30 p.m. CT start for Game 1 on Wednesday isn’t the worst, but it’s still not ideal for the nine-to-fivers in St. Louis.
There’s an odd extra off-day in the St. Louis-Minnesota series between games three and four. After the Wild and Blues play on Sunday, they’ll have two days of rest before Game 4 on Wednesday. It could be a big help for the Blues, who could use any extra days possible to get Paul Stastny back on the ice.
Hot, hot, hot
St. Louis has lost only two games in regulation in its last 15 outings. The Blues have never been hotter this year than the team is right now. Since Mike Yeo took over, St. Louis is 22-8-2. In that same period, the Wild are 16-13-3.
“I think the Western Conference is wide open and I think the St. Louis Blues have a really good chance of getting through this round,” Kerber says.
Kerber says when he breaks down matchups in this series, the center position will be the most important. He gives the current advantage to the Wild, due in part to the physicality of Mikko Koivu, Martin Hanzal and Eric Staal. While the Blues are hoping for Stastny to return to the lineup, who has been the team’s best face-off winner this season (55.7 win percentage).
This is the most interesting aspect of the series, says Kerber. Two years ago Mike Yeo was still head coach of a Wild team that went to the playoffs, after firing Yeo halfway through the season. The roster is almost entirely the same, so Yeo certainly knows all but a few of the Wild players well.
However, the Wild players just as likely know what makes Yeo tick.
“In this case though, I like to look at it as advantage to the coach becuase he knows a little bit more just from a players standpoint of what they are dealing with.”
Hear Kerber’s full breakdown of the series from Monday morning on TIAM with Tom Ackerman here: