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2019 Stanley Cup playoffs: Jets vs. Blues series preview, pick

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The Blues were one of 2018-19’s most compelling teams. After a summer of adding several talented forwards, St. Louis stumbled early. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong fired coach Mike Yeo before Thanksgiving, and by Jan. 2, the Blues had the NHL’s worst record. Since then, St. Louis has accumulated more points (65) than any other team, thanks to a burst of production from Vladimir Tarasenko, improved defensive structure and breakout rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington. No matter how the offseason unfolds, interim coach Craig Berube likely already earned himself an extension.

The Jets, meanwhile, began to flex their depth and talent in last season’s long playoff run, and they brought back nearly the same exact roster. Even though they cruised at the top of the Central Division for most of the season, they never seemed to hit their full stride. A few reasons why: The Jets were without the team’s top two defensemen, Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey, for extended periods. And while Finnish sniper Patrik Laine was chasing Alex Ovechkin for the goal-scoring title last season, the 20-year-old had a harder time finding the net in 2018-19, scoring only 30. This team is a Stanley Cup favorite when it’s clicking; can it get it together in time?cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale3

Though Laine didn’t reach his projected goal totals this season, he’s a streaky player, and if he gets hot, he can be one of the league’s scariest scoring threats. The Jets picked up Kevin Hayes (who has plenty of playoff experience with the Rangers) to be the second-line center, and there are overachieving players on the third and fourth lines. The Blues have two solid scorers on the second line with David Perron and Jaden Schwartz, but overall they can’t match Winnipeg’s depth.

The Blues struck gold with the rookie Binnington, who went 24-5-1 with five shutouts in 32 games, with a league-leading 1.89 goals-against average and .927 save percentage, giving him legit consideration for the Calder Trophy. The Blues can always call on Jake Allen (22 games of playoff experience) as backup. Last season, Connor Hellebuyck was in the Vezina Trophy conversation, but the young American regressed a bit with a .913 save percentage and 2.90 GAA. He has playoff experience, and has looked locked in lately.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Jets had the league’s fourth-best power play this season, hitting at 24.8 percent. The Blues were at just over 21 percent for the season. St. Louis’ penalty kill, since the Jan. 3 turnaround, is seventh best in the league at 84.8 percent. The Jets’ penalty kill has struggled this season; they are one of the league’s worst 10 teams in that area at 79.1 percent; Tanev kills a lot of penalties, so hopefully he is not out for long.

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