St. Louis Blues look to save first-round series at home vs. Avalanche

St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues take on the Colorado Avalanche at home on Friday, the first game of the series to be played in St. Louis. After dropping Wednesday’s matchup by a score of 6-3, the Blues find themselves trailing in the series, 2-0. Going up against the top regular-season club in the NHL, Friday’s game may be St. Louis’ final chance to turn things around. If they can’t pull out a win, they would need to win four-straight games against Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche, which would be an extremely difficult feat to accomplish.

The Blues showed signs of hope in the second half of Wednesday’s game, dominating play and pinning the Avalanche in their own zone for much of the second and third period. Unfortunately, St. Louis’ poor start to the game saw them down 3-0 just over three minutes into the second period, which was ultimately too much to overcome. If the Blues played the entire game the way they did through the final 30 minutes, they would have almost certainly won. Carrying that dominant gameplay and relentless effort into the start of Friday’s game will be crucial.

No Blues player has scored more than one goal in this year’s playoffs thus far. Through two games, Mike Hoffman, Brayden Schenn, Sammy Blais and Jordan Kyrou have the only tallies for St. Louis. Eight players have yet to record a single point, including Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Justin Faulk, Colton Parayko and others. With the team’s regular-season points leader, David Perron, still out on the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocols list, the Blues desperately need more players to step up before it is too late. If St. Louis can’t find a solution to their offense and go down 3-0 in the series, the team’s 2021 Stanley Cup hopes are likely to go down the drain.

Jordan Binnington will start for the Blues in Friday’s pivotal game. Binnington has been about St. Louis’ only hope so far, consistently coming up with huge, timely saves to keep his team in the game. After posting a .939 save percentage (SV%) in Game 1, he dropped to a .879 SV% in Game 2. Binnington is traditionally great at rebounding from rough outings, especially in the playoffs, so we’ll see if he’s got what it takes to get St. Louis back in the series.

The puck drops at Enterprise Center on Friday at 8:30 p.m. CT.

As per, the Blues’ projected lineup against the Avalanche is as follows:

Ivan Barbashev – Ryan O’Reilly – Jordan Kyrou

Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Vladimir Tarasenko

Mike Hoffman – Tyler Bozak – Robert Thomas

Kyle Clifford – Zach Sanford – Sammy Blais

Marco Scandella – Colton Parayko

Torey Krug – Steven Santini

Niko Mikkola – Mitch Reinke

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

Scratched: Klim Kostin, Dakota Joshua, Mackenzie MacEachern, Jake Walman, Jacob de la Rose, Austin Poganski, Joel Hofer, Jon Gillies, Tyler Tucker

Injured: Justin Faulk (upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), Vince Dunn (upper body)

COVID-19 protocol: David Perron, Nathan Walker