One of the best first-round matchups in the NHL Playoffs should be a Western Conference matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues. The Jets and Blues each finished the regular season with 99 points, but Winnipeg was given the two seed via tiebreaker. Winnipeg wants to score a ton of goals, while St. Louis will use terrific goaltending.
The Jets are hoping to regroup in the playoffs after really struggling at the end of the regular season. Winnipeg went just 2-5 in their last seven games and nearly gave up home ice advantage in this series. St. Louis has been playing great hockey since January and won four of their last six regular-season games to pull even with the Jets. Winnipeg is -135 in this game against the St. Louis Blues.
Jets Have Terrific Forwards
Winnipeg could still use some more talented defenseman on their roster, but that isn’t the case when it comes to their forwards. The Jets have four forwards who have tallied at least 30 goals this season, and that scoring depth should work well in the playoffs. Winnipeg is averaging 3.29 goals per game this season, which is the 7th best scoring average in the league. The Jets want to play at a fast pace to try and wear down the Blues.
Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele have been the main offensive stars for Winnipeg this season, but they have gotten plenty of help. Wheeler leads the team with 71 assists and 91 points but isn’t a huge threat to score goals. Scheifele is an elite goal scorer that has registered 38 of them so far this season. If these two players get some space, then the Blues might be in trouble.
Allen, Binnington Both Sharp in Net
The St. Louis Blues don’t have the offense to keep up with the Jets, but they can counter with a pair of terrific goaltenders. Veteran Jake Allen and rookie Jordan Binnington have been sharing time this season in net, and both have been terrific. The duo has combined to allow just 2.68 goals per game, which is the fifth-best mark in the league. Binnington and Allen have 8 combined shutouts this season as well but are facing a tough test against the Jets.
Even though the Blues don’t have as much scoring depth as Winnipeg, they do have an elite player. Vladimir Tarasenko leads the team with 33 goals this season and has been known to dominate in the playoffs. Center Ryan O’Reilly has 49 assists and 77 points to lead the team. The Blues aren’t known for their offense, but they can sneak up and surprise some teams.
Winnipeg Takes Game 1 at Home
The Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues are about as evenly matched as possible, and this series should go 7 games. Winnipeg will do all they can to light the lamp a bunch in this game, while the Blues will counter with terrific goaltending. The Blues come in with more momentum, but Winnipeg is going to get the game 1 victory on Wednesday night. Bet the Winnipeg Jets -135 over the St. Louis Blues.