Avalanche prepare for second-round matchup against “extremely deep” St. Louis Blues

Apr 26, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) makes a save against Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) and center Nazem Kadri (91) in the second period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Avalanche’s second consecutive practice on Friday, head coach Jared Bednar spoke in length about their second-round matchup against Central Division rival St. Louis Blues.

“They’re deep. Extremely deep,” he said. “The numbers show it.”

The Blues finished third in the division with 109 points — sporting the ninth most points in the NHL — and advanced to Round 2 after defeating the Minnesota Wild in six games.

They were led offensively by a bevy of young forwards, who have taken over the team’s top offensive production from veterans like David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn.

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Leading the charge for St. Louis was Vladimir Tarasenko, who had 34 goals and 82 points in 75 games in a rebound season. They also had 76 points from newcomer Pavel Buchnevich, and 77 and 75 from Robert Thomas and NHL All-Star Jordan Kyrou, respectively.

Former Avs forward Brandon Saad (49 points) and Ivan Barbashev (60 points) round out the top nine for the opposition.

“They finished the year 14-2-1,” Bednar said. “Eight 20-goal guys, top special teams in the league. All of it. Everything makes it a tough test.

The Avalanche had a fully healthy lineup at practice again, sporting 14 forwards, nine defensemen and both Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz in goal. It’s unclear at this time if the Avs will roll the same lineup against the Blues that they did in Round 1 against Nashville.

Bednar said on Thursday they would reassess based on what the matchup would be.

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Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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