The Blues leave on Sunday to head to Edmonton and the bubble around Rogers Place, which means that NHL hockey is very close to resuming. They have an exhibition game at 5:30 Central on July 29th against the Blackhawks, then the round robin play begins for the top four teams in each Conference. The Blues will be playing one game each against the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights, and then once seeding is determined at the end of the five game series qualifier rounds, they’ll be off to the official quarterfinal round.
If all goes according to plan, the Blues will be playing through October. The road that they’ll take to get to the Cup Final is uncertain. Normally on day one of the playoffs, the Blues know who their first round opponent is, can watch tape, and prepare accordingly. This year? No clue.
The Blues have eight potential first round opponents. With the expanded field, there are going to be some teams that probably won’t make it past the qualifiers - but in a five game series, you never can tell. Weirder things have happened than the Blackhawks beating the Oilers three times - they did beat them twice in the regular season, after all.
Here’re the matchups:
- (5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks
- (6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes
- (7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild
- (8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets
Some, like the Oilers vs. Hawks, look lopsided. Others, like the Flames and the Jets, can literally go either way. Obviously, there are some teams that the Blues had better luck against during the regular season, and others that they probably don’t want to touch with a 100 foot pole.
Here’s the Blues’ record against each team:
- Edmonton: 2-1-0
- Chicago: 4-0-0
- Nashville: 0-3-1
- Arizona: 1-1-1
- Vancouver: 1-1-1
- Minnesota: 3-0-0
- Calgary: 3-0-0
- Winnipeg: 2-2-0
I think it’s clear from looking at this list that there are two teams in particular that the Blues would rather not face in round one. Winnipeg’s a tough team to play against, and they handled them well last year after some back and forth, but the Blues have been off for a while. The round robin and round one of the playoffs will be spent finding their sea legs again, and finding them against a hard hitting team like the Jets after Winnipeg’s already had potentially five games to gear up could be trouble.
Obviously, Blues fans probably don’t want to be anywhere near Nashville. The Predators stepped their game up against the Blues this season, presumably from banner envy. If there was a first round matchup that the Blues could struggle in, a series against the Preds would be it.
Personally, I would love a Blues-Blackhawks round one series. The two teams haven’t seen each other in the playoffs since 2016, when Troy Brouwer did this:
Blues-Blackhawks series are always barnburners. Much of that draws on the environment in both Enterprise Center and the United Center, and without fans present there’s a risk that the edge isn’t there. That’s a risk for any playoff series this postseason. If there would be a series that could get over the absence of the fans, it would be between St. Louis and Chicago.
Unfortunately for Blues fans, that matchup could be the least likely to happen. We can debate whether or not the Hawks belong in the postseason, but it’s hard to debate the appeal of that matchup.
If you could choose, who would the Blues’ first round opponent be?
This poll is closed