5 Teams Blues Fans Should Cheer on in 2023 Playoffs

The St. Louis Blues will miss the playoffs for the primary time since 2018. After the 2017-18 season, they improved their roster through free company and received the Stanley Cup a yr later in 2019. Their state of affairs is completely different this offseason. They are additional away from Cup rivalry than 5 years in the past, however that’s not what we’re discussing right here.

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If Blues followers are planning on watching the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they’ll want groups to root for. There are apparent ones that Blues followers is not going to cheer on, however right here’s a have a look at those they need to.

5. Vegas Golden Knights

While the Vegas Golden Knights aren’t well liked by followers all through the NHL, they’ve a few connections to the Blues. I feel it’s been lengthy sufficient since former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo departed for Vegas, and he’s price cheering for. The Golden Knights even have Ivan Barbashev, who the Blues traded to Vegas in February.

Ivan Barbashev Vegas Golden Knights
Ivan Barbashev, Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Barbashev has six targets and 10 assists in 23 video games with the Golden Knights. He’s an ideal match for playoff-style hockey; he throws his physique round and scores well timed targets. The Western Conference is huge open, so I may see the Golden Knights making their second run to the Stanley Cup Final. – they misplaced to the Washington Capitals in 2018.

Both Barbashev and Pietrangelo contributed rather a lot to the Blues franchise. They had been each key items in the 2019 Cup run, and there’s no actual purpose for Blues followers to root in opposition to them. The Blues and Golden Knights don’t have any unhealthy blood between them – they’ve by no means met in the playoffs and aren’t in the identical division. It makes loads of sense for Blues followers to need Barbashev and Pietrangelo to have success this postseason.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs

This is a no brainer. The Blues traded captain Ryan O’Reilly to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a blockbuster deal. The Maple Leafs have a knack for not getting out of the primary spherical and haven’t received a playoff collection since 2004. However, they’ve made the precise strikes to place them in a place to win a collection this season. O’Reilly is a confirmed playoff performer.

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They additionally acquired ahead Noel Acciari from the Blues in the commerce, and his type additionally works properly in the playoffs. Blues followers ought to positively root for O’Reilly, though I’ve a sense {that a} Blues reunion with O’Reilly this offseason will turn out to be much less probably if the Maple Leafs make a deep run. Despite that, with each Maple Leafs’ playoff collection loss, they get extra fascinating, a deep run could be enjoyable to observe.

3. New York Rangers

I had blended emotions about this choose, however I feel it’s the precise name. Not solely are the Rangers a enjoyable crew to observe, however additionally they have Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola. The Blues traded them each to New York in February. I perceive that Blues followers really feel a sure approach towards Patrick Kane, who can also be a member of the Rangers, however this crew is thrilling.

Vladimir Tarasenko New York Rangers
Vladimir Tarasenko, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Tarasenko is likely one of the greatest goal-scorers in Blues historical past. He was additionally an enormous contributor in 2019. Mikkola was additionally a top quality contributor in his time with the Blues and performed properly in the 2022 Playoffs. The Rangers additionally have likable stars akin to Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, and Igor Shesterkin. I had to decide on between the Rangers and New Jersey Devils, and I selected the Rangers due to Tarasenko. He’s fifth all-time in targets for the Blues with 262. He’s additionally eleventh all-time in Blues historical past with 644 video games performed. It could be exhausting to persuade me to not root for Tarasenko.

2. Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes are one other likable crew with connections to the Blues. They have ahead Paul Stastny, who performed three and a half seasons with the Blues. In 267 video games with the Blues, he had 175 factors. Stastny’s father (Peter) and brother (Yan) additionally had a brief stint in St. Louis. Outside of that, the Hurricanes are one of many few Eastern Conference groups with 5 straight playoff appearances and never sufficient to indicate for it. They are due for a run to the Cup Final.

Also, Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour was drafted by the Blues and traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in one of many worst trades in franchise historical past. He is a likable character and among the best coaches in the league. He represents a number of what’s so nice in regards to the sport. The Hurricanes are a simple crew for anyone to root for.

1. Seattle Kraken

I’ve a sense that followers whose groups didn’t make the playoffs might be rooting for the Seattle Kraken. They are a enjoyable story. It’s their second season in franchise historical past, they usually have been incredible. They had 60 factors final season. They completed this season with 100 factors and a report of 46-28-8. They’ve been one of the shocking tales of the season and boast a robust connection to the Blues. 

Vince Dunn Seattle Kraken
Vince Dunn, Seattle Kraken (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Kraken have two former Blues – defenseman Vince Dunn and ahead Jaden Schwartz – who had been key performers in the 2019 Cup run. The Kraken chosen Dunn in the growth draft and signed Schwartz in free company earlier than final season. It’s been a breakout campaign for Dunn, who tallied 64 factors in 81 video games after by no means reaching 40 factors in his 5 seasons prior. He was all the time a fan favourite on the blue line in St. Louis, so it must be straightforward to cheer him on.

As for Schwartz, he was a first-round choose by the Blues in the 2010 Draft and performed 10 seasons in St. Louis. He had a stable bounce-back season for Seattle, with 21 targets in 71 video games. He additionally had 54 profession playoff factors with the Blues in 88 video games. The Kraken might be a playoff favourite, and each gamers might be price watching.

It’s unlucky that the Blues aren’t in the playoffs, however there may be a lot to cheer for regardless, with many former Blues nonetheless taking part in. The NHL Playoffs are all the time thrilling, no matter your rooting pursuits. The league is in a terrific spot proper now.

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