The St. Louis Blues were embarrassed by the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Monday. The Avalanche completely dominated play, outshooting the Blues 50-23 and taking the game by a score of 4-1, which could have been much worse if not for St. Louis goaltender Jordan Binnington. Jordan Kyrou scored the lone Blues goal late in the second period, but the team’s offense was pretty quiet otherwise. In Game 2 on Wednesday, St. Louis needs to wake up, give a much better effort and prove they want to contend for the Stanley Cup this year.
Monday’s performance was a complete let-down for Blues fans, who were hoping their team could prove the doubters wrong by stealing the first game against Colorado. Instead, St. Louis came out with an uninspiring effort and didn’t appear playoff-ready at all. The Avalanche were clearly on another level than the Blues. Binnington was the only thing standing between a three-goal loss and a humiliating blowout. Colorado was given way too many odd-man rushes and were able to break out of their zone with ease. St. Louis failed to apply enough pressure and didn’t give the extra push on every play that is expected of everyone when the postseason rolls around. If they fail to fix this on Wednesday, it could be another brutal night for the Blues.
St. Louis’ leading scorer, David Perron, and defenseman Jake Walman were out for Game 1 on the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocols list. Heading into Game 2, it is unclear whether either of them will be available. Even more worrying, there may be other names added to that list ahead of Wednesday night’s matchup, including Binnington, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz who were absent from the Blues’ gameday practice. Losing even more key players would be a huge blow to St. Louis, who need all the help they can get against the top regular-season club in the NHL.
If Binnington is able to play, he is expected to start for the Blues. Posting a .939 save percentage in Game 1, he was the only hope for St. Louis on Wednesday. The team will look to him to hold down the fort and prevent Colorado’s snipers, notably Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, from carrying the Avalanche to a 2-0 series lead. If the Blues are down skaters or can’t figure out how the activate playoff-mode, Binnington will likely have to carry the team on his back again.
The puck drops at Ball Arena on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. CT.
As per NHL.com, the Blues’ projected lineup against the Avalanche is as follows:
Jaden Schwartz – Ryan O’Reilly – Brayden Schenn
Mike Hoffman – Tyler Bozak – Vladimir Tarasenko
Ivan Barbashev – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou
Kyle Clifford – Zach Sanford – Sammy Blais
Torey Krug – Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella – Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn – Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Niko Mikkola, Klim Kostin, Dakota Joshua, Mackenzie MacEachern, Jacob de la Rose, Steven Santini, Mitch Reinke, Austin Poganski, Joel Hofer, Jon Gillies