Ranking possible Canucks playoff opponents: No. 2 Blues

Among the four possible first round playoff opponents, the St. Louis Blues would be the second least desirable for the Vancouver Canucks.

If the Vancouver Canucks get past the Minnesota Wild in the best-of-five qualifying round series, they’ll clash with one of the top heavyweights in the Western Conference.

While the Canucks compete in the qualifying round, the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights will participate in a round robin to determine the No. 1 to 4 seeds in the conference.

All four teams, of course, would pose a major challenge to the Canucks. They’re all loaded with star power, quality goaltending and seasoned veterans. Either team would have to be considered the overwhelming favorite against Vancouver.

I previously explained why I believe the Stars are the most favourable matchup for the Canucks, noting the problems on the special teams as well as the lack of scoring punch, having placed 28th in goals for with 180.

Later on, I detailed why the Golden Knights are the second best possible matchup for head coach Travis Green and company, due to Vancouver’s advantage in goal to go along with superior special teams performances.

While Vancouver is capable of going toe-to-toe with Vegas or Dallas on any given night, they would have to take their play to a higher level against the defending champions or the Avalanche.

As far as the Western Conference is concerned, these two teams belong in a class of their own.

The Canucks actually took two of the three regular season meetings against the Blues, with the only loss coming in overtime. But come playoff time, it’s a whole new game.

The Blues were stingy as usual under head coach Craig Berube, allowing just 2.68 goals per game (fifth fewest in the league). They also allowed the fourth fewest shots per game at just 29.6, and 2019 playoff hero Jordan Binnington was once again spectacular with a 30-13-7 record, a 2.56 goals against average and a .912 save percentage.

St. Louis rolls out four very effective, physically punishing and capable shutdown lines, similar to the 2010-11 Boston Bruins and the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings who overwhelmed the Canucks in the postseason.

There is also a remarkable amount of scoring depth across this lineup. 11 players had double-digit goals, and five players hit 50-plus points. Reigning Conn Smythe and Selke Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly (61 points) is a proven postseason performer who can take over any game. He would especially cause a lot of problems for Vancouver’s young stars.

So when you add it all up, it’s very clear that the Blues would be a much tougher matchup than the Stars or the Golden Knights. If the Canucks get past the Wild in the qualifying round, they can only cross their fingers and hope to avoid a series with the defending champions.