It sure looks like Wilde and the St. Louis Blues are on a crash course to meet in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Recording a heavy lean Saturday afternoon at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, the Wilds (46-21-6, 98 points) and the Blues (44-20-10, 98 points) are in a stalemate in the Central Division standings, with neither capable Catching the Colorado Avalanche (54-14-6, 114 points) at this point.
It is also very unlikely that the Nashville Predators (42-27-5, 89 points) or the Dallas Stars (42-27-5, 89 points) have less than 10 games left in the regular season.
Thus, Wilde should consider Saturday’s game as a possible playoff preview. Whether it’s coach Dean Evans hunting specific matchups on the ice, or superstar Kirill Kaprizov making a statement with his incredible skill set, Wilde would love to beat the Blues for a change—especially on home-ice on the line. with the benefit of.
Those victories have been few and far between as of late.
In fact, over the past few seasons, Wilde has struggled for an overwhelming 2-7-4 record against the Blues. This includes a 0-2-1 record during the 2019-20 season, a 2-4-2 record during the 2020-21 season and a 0-1-1 record this season.
Is this a cause for concern? Meh.
While Wilds struggling against the Blues is certainly not a good sign, not every loss was created equal over the past few seasons.
Especially given the results of this season, for example, Wilde shouldn’t be too disappointed about how things have turned out. As impressive as the spectacle of the Winter Classic was on the scale of the league, it is difficult to draw anything from the outcome of outside games. To make up for last week’s loss of overtime, Wilde more or less dominated the Blues for 40 minutes and fell apart in the final 20 minutes.
In truth, Wilde is going to be the more talented team on paper. He will undoubtedly have the best players in Kaprizov, along with other highly skilled players like Matt Zucarello and Kevin Fiala. They also have a top-tier shutdown line with the Joel Ericsson one centering Jordan Greenaway and Marcus Foligno, as well as some additional scoring options like Ryan Hartman and Matt Boldy.
Meanwhile, the Blues are a talented group in their own right with only a few seasons removed from winning the Stanley Cup. Vladimir Tarasenko is still the straw that is making massive strides this season with youngsters like Robert Thomas and Jordan Kirau. They also have other stalwarts like Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Brayden Shannon, who have been there and they have done so.
As for the rest of the roster, the biggest advantage for Wild could be the middle of the pipe. Most people would take the pair of Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot to the crease over the pair of Ville Husso and Jordan Binnington. That’s the biggest reason general manager Bill Guerin made the blockbuster move for Fleury on the first trade deadline.
That said, the first round is still a few weeks away, and a win for the Wilds or Blues at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday afternoon will go a long way toward gaining some confidence ahead of the playoffs.