By Scott Taylor
Series F: Minnesota Wild (49-25-8, 106 points) vs. St. Louis Blues (46-29-7, 99 points)
This is a series between a team that finished second in the Central and third in the Central and yet the team with seven fewer points won the season series 3-2. St. Louis is led by a strong offense that includes veterans Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Berglund, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny and David Perron, a crew that scored between 40 and 75 points.
Tarasenko had 39 goals while Berglund (23), Schwartz (19), Stastny (18) and Perron (18) all had at least 18. Alex Pietrangelo leads a strong defense.
The Wild, meanwhile, is the highest-scoring Western Conference team in the playoffs, but Minnesota was the class of the league in February and a complete bust in March. They did right the ship in April, but this is a team that really struggled for four weeks right before they clinched a playoff berth.
Minnesota is led by defenseman Ryan Sutter and four 20-goal scorers – Mikael Granlund (26), Eric Staal (28), Nino Neiderreiter (25) and Jason Zucker (22). However, the key is Devan Dubnyk in goal. If he’s good, the Wild can win the Stanley Cup. If he’s not, the Wild could lose in the first round.
Players to Watch:
St. Louis: Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen
Minnesota: Devan Dubnyk, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Suter
Season Series: St. Louis won 3-2.
Our Choice: Minnesota in six games.