Over postgame beers last night, there was a lot of concern expressed about our Blues. Is this a mental thing, where our boys have taken their foot off the pedal since clinching? Is it the new faces coming back from injury that throws off the chemistry? Is this Coach 'Cock tinkering with the roster (we were all lamenting the absence of Scott Nichol)? I don't know, but it is probably a little of all of those things. From the game recaps comes this gem of a quote:
"There's no more talking about it," Blues captain David Backes said. "We're Game No. 82 (Saturday), let's go out and do it."
Whatever the Blues were doing, there's No Time for this now. We've run out of regular season.. there's today, and the playoffs.
The Enemy: The Dallas Stars were eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday, so they have the proverbial "nothing to play for". Like the Blues, they are riding a 4-game losing streak. This is the 4th year in a row that the Stars have missed the playoffs. Which team will the Blues be facing tonight? Will it be the losers playing the string out but without much conviction? Or will there be some sort of pride involved, and a sense of making a strong statement to finish the season?
Scoring is led by Loui Eriksson (26G 44A) , the first of 4 players with 60+ points on the year.. Jamie Benn (26G 37A) and Mike Ribeiro (18G 45A) each have 63 pts, and the goals leader Michael Ryder (35G 27A) has 62 points on the year. There's a dramatic drop-off after that, down to 39-point Steve Ott, their resident shithead. Also very telling, Dallas ranks dead last in Power Play percentage at 13.8%.
Goaltending has not been a big issue for Dallas. Starter Kari Lehtonen comes into tonight with 2.33 GAA and a .920 SV%. Backup Richard Bachman has served capably, putting up a 2.75 GAA and a .910 SV%. Since Lehtonen has been in goal for all 4 losses of this streak, it looks like Bachman will be in goal tonight.
Final Verse: The puck drops at 7PM St Louis time, and the GDT should drop shortly beforehand. The broadcasts are back on Fox Sports MW (thankfully) for the TV, but the radio call has been shifted to Fresh 102.5 FM. If you don't have other plans, consider joining us at Cousin Hugo's in Maplewood for the watch party. Until then, this is your pregame warmup. Gather here, practice jumping on and off the bandwagon, fix the Blues one more time in the comments, and make sure you have your stress balls, booze, and lucky charms all set up. To put folks in a better mood, here's a happy moment from earlier in the season:
Steve Ott vs Barret Jackman Dec 26, 2011 (via hockeyfightsdotcom)