(STL.News) The NHL’s stunted season is finally coming toward a close with the start of Stanley Cup Playoffs. The playoffs began on Tuesday, August 11, with eight teams from the Eastern and
Western Conferences facing off against one another in seeded positions.
The Saint Louis Blues, coming off their 2019 first-ever Stanley Cup Final win, began their seven-game series against the Vancouver Canucks last week. Though the Blues may currently stand at the top of the Western Conference, the team’s journey to the playoffs hasn’t been the smoothest.
In fact, the Blues went 0-3 in their qualifying round matches against the Dallas Stars (2-1), Vegas Golden Knights (6-4), and the Colorado Avalanche (2-1). At the moment, fans are stuck in Saint Louis without the chance to cheer on their team in-person.
Given that the NHL’s remaining play will take place exclusively in the Canadian cities of Edmonton and Toronto without spectators, fandom has changed a bit this year. While there won’t be any Charles Glenn singing the National Anthem, there are a few options to spice up the experience.
Some prefer to get in on the action by betting with trusted sites that offer a wide range of sports wagers in states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Other options for feeling close to the rink include the NHL’s Fan Choice Awards, which allows fans to vote on the best social media content shared by teams and players.
Regular Season to Qualifying Rounds
In October of 2019, the Blues started their season strong. With a winning squad still in place from the previous year’s Stanley Cup grab, the Saint Louis franchise took to the ground running.
For October and November, respectively, the Blues posted 7-3-3 and 10-2-3. Performances by both Jake Allen and Jordan Binnington in the goal helped to ease worries related to weaknesses from the 2019 season, as well as ease concerns about a potentially injured Vladimir Tarasenko.
In December, the squad posted a 9-4-0 record. However, the Blues performance slipped as the season progressed into 2020. Throughout January, February, and March, leaders like captain Alex Pietrangelo and Ryan O-Reilly looked tired, if not shaky.
As the remaining regular play in the season was stunted, more bad news came for the Blues. Vladimir Tarasenko’s shoulder surgery from 2019 was causing him consistent trouble. After a 61-game absence, it seemed the team’s most consistent goal-scorer wouldn’t be returning to the rink.
Without Tarasenko, who was injured in an October match against the LA Kings, the Blues still managed to clinch a playoff position. His return to the ice for the July 29 exhibition match against the Chicago Blackhawks was his first match in nine months.
Currently, Tarasenko is slated to leave Edmonton to return to his doctor to have an evaluation. However, head coach Chris Berube has maintained a positive disposition about the team’s readiness without Tarasenko.
Stanley Cup Hopefuls, Part II
The Blues are currently losing 3-2 in their seven-game series against the Canucks. While they battle it out at Rogers Place in Edmonton, other teams are jockeying to advance to the Finals.
In the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in their series 4-1, while the Boston Bruins also stepped up to eliminate the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1.
The Blues are caught in a tough matchup with the Canucks. However, if the squad manages to first tie the series 3-3 on August 21st and then win on August 23rd, they’ll advance.
Fortunately for the Blues, advancing in the Western Conference Playoffs means they’ll face either the Dallas Stars or the Calgary Flames. This means they’ll avoid a direct collision with either the Blackhawks or the Avalanche, as both squads will need to battle it out in a sevengame series before advancing to the semi-finals.
If the Blues manage to overcome the Canucks, and then either the Flames or the Stars, they’ll have to then make it through the Blackhawks or the Avalanche. Either way, they have their work cut out for them in the Western Conference.