NHL Playoffs: Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues Prediction.

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.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

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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

Minnesota was deadly all season long, and most of that success came in part of the power play where they finished ninth in the league at 21.0 percent. But when you got Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, Erik Haula, Mikko Koivu, Martin Hanzal, Jason Pominville, and Chris Stewart firing on all cylinders you’re going to do rather well. Let’s not forget the defenseman on those power play units, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, and Mathew Dumba have been solid too. The team’s penalty kill was just as good finishing eighth in the league at 82.9 percent. Eric Staal, Erik Haula, Jason Zucker, Ryan White, and Martin Hanzal and defenseman Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Victor Bartley and Christian Folin are responsible for that. If the Wild can continue their special teams play into the playoffs, St. Louis has their work cut out for them, to say the least.

But on the topic of elite special teams and St. Louis, the club finished eighth in the NHL at 21.3 percent on the power play and third on the penalty kill at 84.8 percent. But with a four-forward power play unit consisting of Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Berglund, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo, and Alex Steen it’s not hard to see why plus they have David Perron, Dmitrij Jaskin, Colton Parayko, Zach Sanford, and Paul Stastny these guys are loaded up front and poised to score a ton of power play goals, like they have. And as you can see their penalty kill is just as good and among the best. Patrik Berglund, Dmitrij Jaskin, Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Ryan Reaves, Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Colton Parayko, and Carl Gunnarsson really know how to keep the puck out of their zone on the PK which will frustrate the Wild.

EDGE: St. Louis

OFFENSE:

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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

As for just offense, the Wild have too much of it, their just to skilled and heavy up front, when you got four lines that can consistently put the puck in the net your gonna cause the opposing team trouble. Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Martin Hanzal, Jason Pominville, Chris Stewart, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Ryan White have been hot all season and are showing no signs of slowing down. To opposite that the Blues have Jaden Schmaltz, Ivan Barbashev, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen, Patrik Berglund, David Perron, Dmitrij Jaskin, Zach Sanford, Magnus Paajarvi, Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Ryan Reaves, and Paul Stastny. Five of those players from St. Louis are more grinders than offensive guys as to where the Wild only have two in their lineup.

EDGE: Minnesota

DEFENSE:

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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

Both teams possess very deep defensive cores, Minnesota has Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Victor Bartley, Mathew Dumba, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Christian Folin, and Jared Spurgeon. Mostly offensive, but a few defensive guys as well which will be relied upon in crucial situations. St. Louis doesn’t have as much offense but counters with a lot of defensive type defenseman and big guys at that with Jay Bouwmeester, Colton Parayko, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo, Carl Gunnarsson, and Jordan Schmaltz. So while Minnesota possesses the speed and offensive talent, St. Louis possesses the defensive talent with speed as well, making them fairly even.

EDGE: Draw

GOALTENDING:

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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.

EDGE: Minnesota

SERIES OUTCOME: Minnesota wins 4 games to 3

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