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Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues playoff preview

There’s a first time for everything.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Blues and Jets have never met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have met together in the regular season a lot - 35 times to be exact (including the Thrashers). The Jets have taken 18 games, while the Blues have won 17. The Jets have averaged almost three goals a game, the Blues have averaged 2.5.

Literally zip of that matters. That’s the fun of a new season, a new coach, a new team, and the playoffs. Every year is a refresh, and for the Blues this season they got a mid-season reboot after they concluded their four game series.

All four of the games that the Blues played against the Jets were before their post-All Star game winning streak. Evidence of what was to come was present in the Blues’ solid 1-0 victory over the Jets on December 7th. The three games before that are what Jets fans are going to point at as signs of their team’s pending success: when you outscore an opponent 18-9 in three games, it’s fair to say that you may have a good chance of winning a playoff series.

Another reason to crow about your odds of winning a playoff series is if you have the one-two scoring punch of Patrick Laine and Mark Scheifele. Laine finished the season with 30 goals and 20 assists, and Scheifele is the team’s top goal scorer with 38 goals and 46 assists. Blake Wheeler is still going strong as the set-up guy with 71 assists. Laine is responsible for most of the damage done against the Blues by the Jets - he scored five goals in one game, after all - but shutting him down leads to outcomes like the Blues 1-0 shutout win.

In charge of shutting him down presumably is Jordan Binnington. The new wins record holder for Blues rookies has been stellar all season, and is a main component of the Blues’ success in the second half. Binnington concluded the year with a 1.89 GAA and a .927 save percentage in 32 games played. Connor Hellebuyck, his counterpart in Winnipeg, started 62 games and finished with a 2.90 GAA and a .913 save percentage. Against St. Louis, his three games saw him snag a 2.00 GAA and a .942 save percentage.

This series is delightfully difficult to predict. The Jets are a hard, heavy team. The Blues can vacillate between shutting their opponents down and letting them back into the game. If the season series between the two squads were more spread out, fans could make a clearer call on a prediction as to how this series ends. With all of the games coming in the first half, though, it makes it tough to clearly say how we think this series will go.

I’m going to refrain from making an official prediction other than a massive shrug. One thing that I can say is that it’s going to be tough, and it’s a crying shame that a series with this much firepower in the forms of Vladimir Tarasenko and Scheifele will be broadcast on CNBC.