Blues vs. Canucks playoff preview

Gt-lg_mediumNucks-lg_medium

The Blogs

St. Louis Game Time vs. Nucks Misconduct

The St. Louis Blues defied low expectations and devastating injuries to not just make the playoffs for the first time since 2004, but climb all the way up to the #6 seed and a date with the Northwest champion Vancouver Canucks.

The Storyline

Vancouver is loaded with expectations, the front office for having acquired Mats Sundin, and the Sedin twins for playing out their contract, with the specter of previous disappointing playoff performances hanging over their impending free agency. St. Louis has boldly gone where nobody thought they could go, so might they play "fast and loose", and get the jump on the Canucks?

The Numbers

St. Louis Vancouver
 Record 41-31-10 15th 45-27-10 7th
 Pts % .561 15th .610 7th
 Goals For/Game 2.77 19th 2.96 11th
 Goals Against/Game 2.77 12th 2.60 7th
 5-on-5 GF/GA 0.94 19th 1.21 3rd
 PP% 20.5 8th 18.8 16th
 PK% 83.8 3rd 81.4 16th
 Shots/Game 27.7 28th 28.5 24th
 Shots Against/Game 28.5 6th 29.2 10th
 FO % 49.1 18th 51.9 5th

That gap in 5-on-5 GF/GA is the largest among the Western Conference matchups, and is probably the single most significant stat in this table (since the bulk of any game is played 5-on-5).

Goaltending

St. Louis


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Chris Mason 57 3215 27 21 7 7 129 2.41 1544 1415 .916 6

Vancouver


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Roberto Luongo 54 3181 33 13 7 5 124 2.34 1542 1418 .920 9

Penalties

No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:

 St. Louis Penalties Drawn Vancouver Penalties Drawn
 Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-  Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-
 David Perron 46 24 +22  Alex Burrows 58 48 +10
 David Backes 41 54 -13  Ryan Kesler 37 23 +14
 B.J. Crombeen 32 38 -6  Kevin Bieksa 34 35 -1
 Cam Janssen 31 32 -1  Daniel Sedin 32 18 +14
 Keith Tkachuk 27 29 -2  Henrik Sedin 31 23 +8
 Dan Hinote 25 19 +6  Darcy Hordichuk 28 30 -2
Penalties Taken Penalties Taken
 David Backes 41 54 -13  Shane O'Brien 27 57 -30
 B.J. Crombeen 32 38 -6  Alex Burrows 58 48 +10
 Barret Jackman 23 35 -12  Mattias Ohlund 13 46 -33
 Brad Winchester 25 34 -9  Kevin Bieksa 34 35 -1
 Cam Janssen 31 32 -1  Darcy Hordichuk 28 30 -2
 Keith Tkachuk 27 29 -2  Willie Mitchell 22 27 -5

For Vancouver, the Dastardly Duo of Ohlund and O'Brien ranked among the very worst in Penalty Plus/Minus, and a critical factor for the Canucks will be how referees call the game during the playoffs. If the zebras opt to "let the players decide the game", they might get away with fewer penalties than would otherwise be the case.

The Prediction

There are a couple tempting notions that could lead one to call for an upset here, but nothing strong enough to make the difference. I'll take the Vancouver Canucks.

NHL Playoffs Blog Coverage, Schedule and Scores - SB Nation

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