The St. Louis Blues punched their ticket to the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday (May 12) after defeating the Minnesota Wild in six games. They dominated the Wild from the third period of Game 5 to the end of the series in Game 6.
After dominating the regular-season series, the Blues backed it up by taking the Wild down in six games, including three straight wins to finish it out. Here are three takeaways from the series-clinching game.
Blues’ Power Play Comes Up Large
The Blues’ power play looked fantastic in Game 6, scoring two goals on six attempts. Their second-ranked power play in the regular season was terrific and it carried over to the playoffs. Major props should go out to Scott Perunovich, who had three power-play assists and has held down the top unit in the absence of Torey Krug.
The first unit hammered home both power-play goals in Game 6, one each from Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blues had a power-play above 30 percent in this series, the only other teams to do that have been the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Washington Capitals.
There were definite concerns about how the Blues’ power play would look without Krug, but as mentioned before, Perunovich has been an excellent puck mover. The chemistry in between the two circles with Brayden Schenn, David Perron, Tarasenko, and O’Reilly has been fantastic and it was on display again in Game 6. They scored four goals on the power play in the three games they won to finish it out, as special teams were the difference in this series.
A Dominant Second Period
The Blues carried a 1-0 lead into the second period after being outshot 10-4 in the opening frame. They came out smelling blood in the water, going nuclear with three consecutive goals. They took the play to the Wild in the period, which really made it feel like game over for Minnesota.
The Blues outshot the Wild 21-5, which included the three power plays that they got in the period. They have the ability to turn the game on a dime with an overwhelming offensive attack, something that they didn’t have last season. The adjustments of head coach Craig Berube were on display in these last three games, as he found some great forward line combinations and it showed up in this period, as they generated some fantastic scoring chances.
The Blues had a tendency to dominate periods in this series, and they saved the best for the second to last. Despite being outshot 21-6 themselves in the first and third periods, they made it count in the second period. They simply did what the Wild couldn’t do, string together goals, and Jordan Binnington deserves some credit for that.
Onto the Second Round Against Avalanche
The Blues will now get a rematch of their first-round series in 2021 with the Avalanche, who dominated and swept them in four games. Both of these teams are different, and a lot of it has to do with goaltending. The Avalanche have a more reliable netminder in Darcy Kuemper if he’s healthy, and the Blues have a seemingly more confident Binnington.
The Blues will have their hands full with the best defenseman in hockey, Cale Makar, and an elite offensive attack with the Avalanche’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen. The Blues should be up to the task here, as their lineup is far better than it was a season ago. This will be more of a heavyweight bout than last season was, and it should be an electrifying series.
Either way, the Blues are moving on to the second round for the first time since their Cup run in 2019. They got timely goal scoring, simple defensive play, and quality goaltending in six games against the Wild’s best team in their franchise history. They are in for a tough series against the juggernaut Avalanche, but I expect them to be ready to rock and roll when the puck drops on Game 1.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.