If the Blues were grumpy last night, they're going to be positively cranky tonight.
There's been plenty of fisticuffs and scrums between these two teams in the past, and the stakes being even higher (for both sides) makes it all the more likely that it'll continue tonight. This is a preview of the playoff series most folks wanted to avoid. The Dallas Stars come into tonight's match on a 6-4-0 run in their last 10 games. Their last game was a loss to the BJs in the Peverley makeup match. They have fought their way back into the playoff picture, and can actually clinch with a win tonight.
The Stars are competing with the Phoenix Coyotes for the last playoff spot, and have a 2 point lead over them in the standings. A Stars win tonight means that the Coyotes could only tie the Stars by winning out on their remaining 2 games, but would still lose to Dallas on tiebreakers. Meanwhile, a loss by the Stars, and the Coyotes have a chance to catch them in their remaining games - Saturday against San Jose, and Sunday versus ... the Dallas Stars. Depending on the outcome of tonight's Blues/Stars game and the SJ/Phoenix match on Saturday, there could be "loser goes home" match scheduled on the last day of season. I'm sure the league would love to see that excitement. The only way that happens, though, is with a Blues win tonight.
Let's oblige them, eh?
The Blues lost to the Stars in their last meeting, a 4-2 decision on 03/29. If you didn't know the score, some of the other things look good. The Blues were 2-for-4 on the power play, and outshot the Stars 35-27. The Blues dominated the faceoff dot, winning 59% of the draws. The Blues were able to hold the Dallas big guns, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn off of the score sheet completely. Alas, it was the Stars' secondary scoring, and some sloppy play in our own end, that brought on the loss.
If the Blues can correct those defensive lapses (like leaving people open near the net, or not skating during D zone play), they can start their way back to the winning path again. Potting a couple of goals wouldn't hurt either. For that, we look at Kari Lehtonen, tonight's likely starting goalie. He comes into tonight's game with a 2.45 GAA and a .918 Sv%, pretty good numbers. His stats against St Louis are not encouraging: his career numbers against the Blues are 1.99 GAA and .932 Sv%. Ouch. It's a hard life, being a Blues fan.
Then again, wouldn't it be about the Blues-iest thing ever, to lose to the team we've beat all year (MN) and then beat the assumed tougher opponent on back-to-backs?
The Blues go into tonight's match missing a lot of firepower. We were already prepared to go without Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes, and now we add to that list T.J. Oshie and Brenden Morrow . Osh with the obvious head injury (day-to-day), and now Morrow with a foot injury. Also, we're down Derek Roy and Vladimir Sobotka. With those players down, the Blues have called up Ty Rattie, Keith Aucoin and Adam Cracknell from the Chicago Wolves. At this rate, job #1 may well be "keep yourself alive". This suggests two things to me:
- A possible reunion of the CPR line - "we're putting the band back together!"
- This could push the skilled youngsters (Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin) up the depth chart. Perhaps we'll see them in new roles, and that could spark some offense. Paajarvi, in particular, could find some quality ice time.
The Blues are more known for the heavy grinding game, but this infusion of youth could make this a day at the races. The game tonight could be quite a track meet.
here's an interesting read from that last link, after the last Stars/Blues game;
Final Verse: Well, it's still "normal" time for starts, thankfully. Opening faceoff is at 7:30 PM tonight. The broadcast schedule overlaps the Cardinals, so we get to play a guessing game as to how to watch it. Here's the official listing for TV channels ... good luck. The radio call will be on KYKY (Y98) FM. Insert Radio Ga Ga joke here. The GDT should drop shortly before the puck does. Until then, consider this your pregame warmup. Gather here, make up your own jokes about Backes and Morrow both wearing boots in Texas, lay odds on how many penalties Steve Ott will take, and watch some actors pretend to be rock stars: