The St. Louis Blues will play the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
St. Louis, which won the Stanley Cup last season and finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season, was 0-2-1 in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to finish as the No. 4 seed in the West. Vancouver eliminated the Minnesota Wild in four games in a best-of-5 series and will be the No. 5 seed.
“Vancouver has a lot of young guys who are really good players, (have) a lot of speed,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “They’re a dangerous team offensively, they really come at you with speed. We’re going to have to do a good job of checking, doing the right things. And they also have a good power play. We took too many penalties (in the round-robin), so it’s important we have to stay out of the penalty box.”
Ryan O’Reilly led the Blues with three assists, and David Perron and Colton Parayko each scored two goals in the round-robin. Jordan Binnington was 0-2-0 with a 4.10 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage. Jake Allen allowed one goal on 38 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Quinn Hughes scored six points (one goal, five assists) for the Canucks in the Qualifiers, which Vancouver entered as the No. 7 seed. Bo Horvat (two goals, two assists), Elias Pettersson (one goal, three assists) and Christopher Tanev (one goal, three assists) each scored four points. Jacob Markstrom was 3-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA, .926 save percentage and one shutout.
“They’re both really good teams,” Canucks coach Travis Green said prior to knowing their opponent. “I mean, it’s pretty obvious when you’ve watched them play the last few years, a Stanley Cup winner (St. Louis) and a team that was on the verge of going to the Stanley Cup (Dallas), so whatever team we play it will be a good matchup, a hard matchup.”
St. Louis was 1-1-1 against Vancouver this season. Five players scored two points each, including a goal and an assist each from Tyler Bozak, Alex Pietrangelo and Jaden Schwartz. Binnington was 1-0-1 with a 1.87 GAA and .939 save percentage. Allen allowed two goals on 25 shots in a 3-1 loss on Jan. 27.
“We definitely didn’t play our best in these three (round-robin) games, but I think we progressively got better,” Allen said. “… We need to home in on Vancouver. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
J.T. Miller led the Canucks with four points (three goals, one assist) against the Blues, and Horvat scored two goals. Markstrom allowed two goals on 27 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss on Nov. 5. Backup Thatcher Demko was 2-0-0 with a 1.92 GAA and .946 save percentage.
“You look at it, both teams, St. Louis, Dallas, one is a Stanley Cup champion team, so they definitely know what it takes, and Dallas has a lot of experience, and both definitely more than us,” Canucks forward Tanner Pearson said. “So whoever it is, it’s definitely going to be a big task and hopefully a pretty good series.”
This will be the fourth playoff series between the teams. Vancouver won each of the previous three, including the most recent in four games in the 2009 Western Conference Quarterfinals.
This is Vancouver’s first postseason appearance since 2015. The best-of-7 series will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the hub city for the Western Conference.
NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers and independent correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this report