The St. Louis Blues might be playing the team they would have faced anyway. However, given how they got there, they should be worried.
There is a belief out there that everything works out the way it should. In a very strange way, that might have happened for the St. Louis Blues. The worry is how it happened, not that it happened.
The end result of having to play the Vancouver Canucks is not worrying, in and of itself. The reality is that the Blues were likely to play Vancouver anyway.
We will never truly know how things would have panned out if the pandemic did not shut down pro sports. The Blues were technically still in first place in the Western Conference, but the Colorado Avalanche were tailgating them.
Conversely, the Vancouver Canucks were sitting in the eighth spot, but only based on tiebreakers. They were tied on points with the Nashville Predators, but had more wins.
Still, despite a tight race at the bottom and unknown finish at the top, there was a strong probability that these two teams would have played one another anyway. Thus, everything worked out as it should have for this first round result.
The troubling thing is that it took two play-in round upsets, with Arizona and Chicago moving on, and the Blues going winless in the round-robin. That last part is particularly upsetting.
During the round-robin portion of the tournament, we all kept saying that seeding did not matter. Technically it did not since we had no clue who the Blues would be playing in the next round.
However, it mattered for potential future rounds. Finishing in fourth has now guaranteed the Blues a tougher path, if seedings hold.
An argument can be made that you have to go through the hard teams any time you win a Stanley Cup. Still, you hope for advantageous match ups if you can get them.
By finishing fourth, the Blues almost surely know they will have to go through both Vegas and Colorado to reach another final appearance. Additionally, they will do it as the road team, which takes away the advantage of having the defensive match ups you would like.
Perhaps there might be an upset or two in the first round. That’s not unheard of these days – just ask the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If all the top four seeds win, however, the Blues would have to play Vegas in the second round. They would then play Colorado in the conference final if they defeated the Dallas Stars.
Playing Colorado in the conference final might be better just because they’d be a little more beaten up, negating some of their speed.
In the end, how you view the upcoming possibilities depends greatly on paper vs. reality.
On paper, it would have been much better to finish first or second. You play the 12 or 11 seed, who would not have even been playing in a normal playoff scenario.
On paper, Vancouver should be better than Arizona or Chicago, making this match up harder. On paper, it would have been better to finish first or second, giving the Blues a better shot at facing Dallas in the second round instead of Colorado or Vegas.
That is not how things panned out though. Instead, they do have to face Vancouver and Jacob Markstrom, who is capable of stealing a series easily.
But, as mentioned at the start, that was always a possibility. The Blues might have been destined to play Vancouver.
How it came about is the disappointing part. To go winless in three games and cough up a lead in all three too.
This is the life of a hockey player now. Nothing will come easy.