The St. Louis Blues will begin life in the newly formed West Division when they visit Ball Arena and the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night. The Blues will be looking to avenge a poor performance in the playoff bubble last season, while the Avalanche come into the season as many experts’ favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
The moneyline for this game has Colorado -145, while St. Louis checks in at +125.
Blues Look to Get Back to the Top
The Blues come into the season with a sour taste in their mouths. They did not perform well in the bubble in Edmonton last summer and know that they should have played better hockey.
Some pretty major changes occurred in the offseason, as former captain and defensive stalwart Alex Pietrangelo signed a free-agent deal with the Vegas Golden Knights. He was replaced by Torrey Krug, who had spent his entire career with the Boston Bruins.
A long-time favorite of Blues fans, Alexander Steen, retired during the offseason, along with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. St. Louis brought in goal-scoring winger Mike Hoffman from the Florida Panthers to add some scoring punch. The new captain for the Blues is center Ryan O’Reilly.
The Blues will rely heavily on goaltender Jordan Binnington, who did not have a strong showing in the playoffs after leading the Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019. He will look to bounce back and return to form.
St. Louis will also dedicate a lot of minutes to defenseman Colton Parayko, who will likely be paired with Krug. Center Robert Thomas will also be relied on to help with the scoring.
Time to Take the Next Step
The Colorado Avalanche come into the season with a target on their backs. They are the favorites not only in the division but the Western Conference, and they are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Colorado finished last season in second place in the Central Division with 92 points in 70 games. They advanced to the second round of the playoffs and lost in overtime in Game 7.
Colorado will rely heavily on center Nathan MacKinnon and with good reason. MacKinnon scored 35 goals and tallied 58 assists in 69 games in 2019-20. He is one of the best players in the league and can take a game over all by himself.
Andre Burakovsky is another player to keep an eye on. He scored 20 goals and had 25 assists in 58 games a season ago.
Between the pipes will be a tandem of Phillipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. Grubauer is expected to get the start Wednesday night, though no announcement has been made.
He has a career GAA of 2.44 and a save percentage of .920. Francouz has a career GAA of 2.40 and a save percentage of .923. The split of the use of these goaltenders is expected to be about 60/40 toward Grubauer.
This is the first of eight meetings between these two favorites in the Western Conference. The teams are pretty evenly matched, and they both have solid goaltending. The Blues will be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, especially in net.
Take the Blues to win on the road in this one.