The St. Louis Blues are the feel good hit of the spring for the NHL. Widely considered to be in the hunt for
Both teams are so hot right now. (1st and 3rd hottest teams since the All-Star break.)
Sedin Sedin Burrows > Boyes-McDonald-Backes
Kesler Sundin Demitra > Perron-Berglund-Oshie
Raymond Wellwood Bernier > Crombeen-McClement-Steen
Hordichuk Johnson Rypien < Hinote-Tkachuk-Winchester
St. Louis's young guns have stepped up but these kids don't really know what they are getting into. Vancouver's got the usual cast of characters as well as former Maple Laugh, Mats Sundin. Sundin can push the Canucks past the 1st round. In fact, that's what he's there for. He's already allowed players like Henrik Sedin, Kesler and Alex Burrows better their offensive highs just by his presence and overall the Canucks top 6 is very strong.
The role players for the Canucks have chipped in through out the season and may even get Taylor Pyatt back soon (awful story) when he's ready emotionally and might be able to ride that to the Cup as well as gain legions of fans for just a truly sad story for the guy.
The Blues are a different story. Sure you've heard of Tkachuk and Kariya but these two ageing superstars aren't what they were. Now names like Boyes, McDonald, Backes and Oshie lead the charge.
Brad Boyes was left for the dead by the hockey community as being a bust but has now become the player many suspected and had a career high with 33 goals and 72 points.
But the real energy from this team is the new "kid line" of David Perron, Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie. Hockey needs more line names and the Kid line could be that new line combo that resonates throughout the hockey world.
Paul Kariya might also return from injury this series and would be an emotional jolt to the baby Blues. Kariya isn't exactly a playoff choker either...
Ohlund - Edler > Jackman-Polak
Mitchell - Bieksa > McKee-Woywitka
O'Brien - Salo > Colaiacovo-Weaver
On paper these are two impressive defensive corps in the league. Vancouver goes about 7 deep on defense with ex Flyer castoff Ossi Vaananan.
The Blues also offer a respectable d but have lost potential superstar Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer for the season. Those two in the lineup would be huge but alas the Canucks still have a simply better unit.
Luongo > Mason
Luongo might be the league's best goalie. He got his first taste of the playoffs last year and has come into the playoffs on another 2.5 game shutout streak.
For Mason, the idea is this. Don't allow more than 3 goals. The Blues offense might be hard pressed to score more than that. Mason isn't one of the leagues best but he's not terrible. Regardless, the Blues are going to find it tough to score and need Mason to literally steal this one for them to have a fighter's chance.
I like the Blues and Oshie is one of my favorite players in the league but the Canucks are just too strong for them. I expect this series to be close but the Blues are just babies and need to experience that playoff disappointment before they begin their rise to prominence. The Blues though have outstanding special teams so the Canucks need to stay out of the box. That's tough with pests like Alex Burrows and Ryan Keslor skating around. Either way this will be hard hitting series and should be fun to watch provided anyone in the NHL decides to broadcast this series to the national audience.
Pick: Canucks in 6.