It's tough to complain about not enough shots, when the Blues got 42 of them on net against the Wild. One would think that would be enough.... but it very obviously wasn't. Despite getting so many pucks on Dubnyk, the Blues passed over so many other opportunities. I can't believe we had a clean 3-on-1 rush on the Minnesota net, and didn't even get a shot off. If the Blues score there ..... ugh. It's just hard to watch those get wasted. Fans are just looking for a reason to believe that this year is going to be different.
Fortunately, the Blues have a chance to get right back at it tonight in Dallas. The Stars have played the Blues tough this year. While St Louis won the first match, the Dallas has taken the following two games. Tonight's the night that the Blues can even the season series up with a win and pull back even with the Predators. There's a lot on the line, but more importantly, the Blues need to demonstrate that they can learn from games like last night's.
The Stars were counted out earlier this season when Tyler Seguin went down after getting clipped by Florida's Dmitry Kulikov. Amazingly, Seguin came back earlier than expected from his injury, scored twice in his first game back, and has been on a tear ever since. It's still a long shot, but being only 6 points out of the last wild card slot is not insurmountable. All they have to do is keep winning their own games - and they have been. Dallas has won 3 games in a row heading into tonight, and have scored 4 goals or more in 4 of the last 5 games. If they can keep up the offense and get a save or two, they have a chance.
Kari Lehtonen has to be at the top of his game for that to happen. In 6 of his last 8 outings, Lehtonen has been at .900 or less in save percentage. The Stars upgraded in the backup position just before the deadline, sending Anders Lindback to Buffalo in exchange for Jhonas Enroth . That helps in the depth of the goaltending position, but Lehtonen needs to be better. After facing the Blues tonight, they will be playing Pittsburgh and Chicago next. For the season, Kari has a .905 save percentage and a 2.92 GAA. In his career against St Louis, though, he has a .931 save percentage and a 1.99 GAA. That's led to a 12-4-2 record against the Blues, including 2 shutouts. Some guys have all the luck against the Blues.
The point leaders on the Dallas team are Jamie Benn (64), Tyler Seguin (62) and Jason Spezza (53). After that, there's a drop off to rookie defenseman John Klingberg with just 36 points. That illustrates the dependence that Dallas has on those players. I suspect they'll be seeing a lot of the Backes line tonight. Young Klingberg is learning his lessons, too.
The Blues will have Jake Allen in net tonight, and will likely face Kari Lehtonen across the ice. Dallas injuries include Trevor Daley (knee), Travis Moen, (Upper Body), and Valeri Nichushkin (hip). So basically, if you have a V in your first name, you're banged up. Vernon Fiddler better be drinking his milk, saying his prayers, and taking his vitamins. John Klingberg is likely to return to the lineup tonight. For the Blues, Zbynek Michalek looked good in his debut in the Bluenote; You wear it well. Lindbohm and Jokinen will be returning to the lineup tonight as well, it seems.
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Final Verse: The game is an early one tonight; the puck drops at 5:00 PM St Louis time, and the GameDay Thread should drop shortly beforehand. Grab your beer and/our Girl Scout Cookies and get ready for a hard-fought match. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. Blues are looking to rebound and keep up with the Preds. Stars are looking to collect points for a playoff push. Something's gotta give. Come join us in the GDT, and we'll find out together.
I've been on a Scottish kick this weekend (hence the theme today), here's one of my favorite Scottish comedians.