The NHL Playoffs Start on Wednesday, A Few Teams Surprised Us All and Made it in the Big Show. But Who Will Finish as the Stanley Cup Champion? Follow This Prediction Series to Find Out!
BREAKDOWN OF THE TEAMS SEASON: What a season the Minnesota Wild had eh? Scoring outbreaks from all four lines, three solid lines of defense and a goalie who is going to compete for the Vezina Trophy at the NHL awards. Rookie Joel Eriksson Ek had a great debut before returning to Sweden, then the pickups of Eric Staal, Martin Hanzal, and Ryan White were very influential. Staal had a tremendous season putting up 65 points in 82 games, while Devan Dubnyk put up his best season going 40-19-5 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.25 goals-against-average in 63 games. Their special teams were also outstanding both finishing in the top ten. But they weren’t the only team to have a solid year, so did their opponents. St. Louis finished three wins and seven points behind the Wild. All season there was talks of Kevin Shattenkirk on his way out and it finally happened when the team shipped him to Washington. But the additions of Carter Hutton, David Perron, and Nail Yakupov paid off as well as the rise of prospect Ivan Barbashev. This is going to be one of those series in the NHL playoffs where you need to watch every game.
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Mar 7, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; St Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (91) celebrates his goal in the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The St Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Wild right wing Nino Niederreiter (22) celebrates his goal with center Eric Staal (12) in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Wild won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; St Louis Blues forward Magnus Paajarvi (56) and Minnesota Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson (23) skate after the puck and in the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) watches the play against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Goaltending is rather simple, you got Devan Dubnyk who is coming off a career season and is going to carry it into the playoffs with a very solid experienced backup in Darcy Kuemper. St. Louis has Jake Allen in which he’s finally played his first season as a starter and was often inconsistent leaving many of the games to backup Carter Hutton. And while Hutton doesn’t have the experience or consistency that Kuemper has, he’s still great and an underdog.