Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues: Three keys for Game 1

The St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche open Game 1 of their first-round series Monday night at Ball Arena (NBCSN, ALT). Three keys for the Avs:

Maintain home-ice advantage. The Avs are on a club-record-tying 17-game points streak at home (16-0-1) and scheduled to play four of the seven games in this series at Ball Arena. They need to continue their winning ways in Games 1 and 2 because their success will be more difficult at Enterprise Center with the Blues having the ability to match the Ryan O’Reilly line with Nathan MacKinnon’s line. That matchup was the big reason why St. Louis defeated Colorado in the last two meetings at Enterprise Center late last month.

Goalie up. Philipp Grubauer might be the Vezina Trophy frontrunner as the NHL’s best goalie in the regular season. He’s primed to carry that excellence into the playoffs in his sixth year. The Blues’ Jordan Binnington led his club to the 2019 Stanley Cup but he’s coming off an average regular season, at best. Colorado will likely win the series by winning this matchup.

RELATED: Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues: Who has the edge, five things to watch and predictions

Depth contributions. Avs rookie forward Alex Newhook, 20, will play in Game 1 despite just six games of NHL experience. He and veteran winger Brandon Saad, among others, must contribute in scoring-depth roles. Saad is returning to the lineup after missing 11 games because of a lower-body injury.

Footnotes. Avs defenseman Conor Timmins will play after suffering an undisclosed injury in last week’s regular-season finale. … Blues coach Craig Berube said top-line forward and leading scorer David Perron remains out because of COVID protocol and top-four defenseman Vince Dunn is out with an injury.

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