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Behind The Numbers

Blues vs. Predators key statistics

Solving goalies Jake Allen, Pekka Rinne will go long way in determining series winner

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

Two hot goalies will play one another in the Western Conference Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators go head to head.

According to the numbers, goals could be hard to come by, and not just because of the goalies. The Blues are a low-shot volume team that relies heavily on its top line. That will be confronted by the defense of Nashville, which features one of the NHL's most effective top four.

Here are five interesting stats about this series:

 

1. Hot goalies

To win, the first thing the Blues and Predators will have to figure out is how to score against a hot goalie.

St. Louis will be facing Rinne, who had three shutouts in 61 regular-season starts and two in four starts in a four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. In total, Rinne allowed three goals in four games.

Nashville will face Allen, who has a .942 save percentage in 30 regular-season and playoff games, which leads the NHL among those to have played at least 10 games, since Mike Yeo became coach and Martin Brodeur was named goaltending coach on Feb. 1.

 

2. Low-shot volumes

Allen's great goaltending compensated for the Blues' low-shot volumes in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild.

The Blues averaged 26.8 shots per game against the Wild, which ranked last among Stanley Cup Playoff teams, and allowed 36.4, which ranked second to the Pittsburgh Penguins (38.8).

During the regular season, St. Louis was last among playoff teams with an average of 28.4 shots per game.

 

3. Key scoring

The Blues will rely on their top line of Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko for their shooting and scoring.

In the regular season, Tarasenko had 75 points (39 goals, 36 assists), which led the Blues by 20 points over Schwartz, who had 55 (19 goals, 36 assists). In terms of shots, Tarasenko's 286 were 98 more than the next closest total on the team by defenseman Colton Parayko (188).

In the playoffs, Schwartz is leading the Blues with five points (two goals, three assists) in five games and Tarasenko is first with 21 shots. They are the only Blues forwards who played at least 100 minutes in the first round, playing 110:29 and 104:05, respectively.

A foot injury kept Stastny out of the lineup since March 21 before his return for Game 5 when he finished second to Schwartz among forwards with 22:42 minutes of ice time and scored one goal.

Video: MIN@STL, Gm3: Schwartz jams home Steen's feed

 

4. Nashville's top four

No team relies on its top four defensemen to a greater extent than the Predators. Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban, and Mattias Ekholm will be the key to countering the top line of the Blues.

These four defensemen each averaged more than 25 minutes per game in the first round. The third pairing of Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber averaged 11:55 and 11:26 minutes, respectively.

Josi and Ellis were used primarily in the defensive zone, and Subban and Ekholm in the offensive zone. At even strength, Ellis lined up for 14 faceoffs in the offensive zone and 47 in the defensive zone, for a League-low 22.95 zone start percentage.

 

5. Special teams slowdown

Scoring may prove equally difficult to come by with the man advantage.

During the regular season, St. Louis was third in the League with a penalty-killing percentage of 84.8, which includes a League-best 88.8 percent under Yeo. Their penalty-killing percentage against the Wild was 83.3.

Nashville's 80.9 penalty-killing percentage in the regular season ranked 15th, but its League-high 12 shorthanded goals makes opposing teams more cautious. Forward Viktor Arvidsson led the League with five shorthanded goals and forward Filip Forsberg was tied for fifth with three.

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