Blues swept in first round by Avalanche due to lack of offense, injuries

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The St. Louis Blues were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche, losing 5-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Enterprise Center on Sunday.

The Blues were outscored by the Avalanche 20-7 in the best-of-7 series and swept from an NHL postseason series for the first time since the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings.

Here is a look at what happened during the 2021 postseason for the Blues and why things could be even better next season:

The Skinny

Potential unrestricted free agents: Jaden Schwartz, F; Tyler Bozak, F; Mike Hoffman, F; Nathan Walker, F; Mitch Reinke, D; Jon Gillies, G

Potential restricted free agents: Zach Sanford, F; Ivan Barbashev, F; Robert Thomas, F; Dakota Joshua, F; Jordan Kyrou, F; Jacob de la Rose, F; Vince Dunn, D

Potential 2020 NHL Draft picks: 5

What went wrong 

Not enough offense: St. Louis scored 2.98 goals per game during the regular season. The number dropped to 1.75 against Colorado, which averaged 5.00 per game. The Blues scored two power-play goals on nine opportunities (22.2 percent) and failed to score in the first period of any game.

Injuries: The Blues played Games 3 and 4 without defensemen Justin Faulk (upper body) and Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), who were injured in Game 2. They were without Dunn (upper body) and their leading scorer, forward David Perron (NHL COVID-19 protocol), for the series. Jake Walman played Game 4 after the defenseman was removed from protocol Friday.

Stars faded: Hoffman, Kyrou and Brayden Schenn combined to score three goals and captain Ryan O’Reilly was held without one after the forwards totaled 71 in the regular season. Goalie Jordan Binnington made 46 saves in a 4-1 loss in Game 1 but had a 3.78 goals-against average and .878 save percentage the rest of the series. He’s 0-9 and has allowed 35 goals on 280 shots in the postseason (4.19 GAA, .875 save percentage) since winning Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

Reasons for optimism

A healthy Vladimir Tarasenko: The forward didn’t make his season debut until March 6 after he had surgery on his left shoulder for the third time Sept. 17, 2020, and missed the final six regular-season games and eight of the last nine with a lower-body injury. But he returned for the playoffs and scored two goals in Game 4. He played four games in the 2020 postseason before being shut down after Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Vancouver Canucks on Aug. 14. He scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 24 regular-season games this season.

Veteran pedigree: It’s not clear what will happen with Schwartz, Hoffman and Bozak, but St. Louis has Tarasenko, O’Reilly, Schenn, Perron and Sammy Blais, defensemen Colton Parayko, Torey Krug, Faulk and Marco Scandella, and Binnington, signed for at least one more season.

Power play: St. Louis was sixth in the NHL (23.2 percent) led by Perron, who scored 21 power-play points (six goals, 15 assists). Hoffman led the Blues with seven power-play goals and was second with 17 power-play points. The Blues scored on the man-advantage in nine straight games from April 9-29 (11-for-25), the fifth-longest streak in their history.

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