The Blues celebrated clinching a playoff spot by packing their bags and boarding a flight to Dallas, TX. The last road trip of the regular season features just two stops: tonight in Texas, and Sunday in Chicago. With a win tonight, the Blues can draw even with the Predators for 1st in the Central Division. As we've said in the podcast, that's quite an accomplishment. In the Pacific division, you have the Oilers and Coyotes to grab points off of. In the East, you have the Hurricanes, Sabres and Leafs to dine out on. Here in the Central Division, though, there are no easy outs. Every team can (and will) challenge you every night. There should almost be a bonus to winning the Central. Conference III us no easy place to be. To win the Central, you have to try just a little bit harder. Case in point is tonight's opponent, the Dallas Stars.
At the beginning of the season, many were projecting the Stars to be a shoo-in for the playoffs. A lot was made of their top forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, and how they would join with acquisition Jason Spezza this year. They have had good seasons, but injuries, weak defense, and suspect goaltending have worked against them. As things stand now, they're just two points ahead of last-place Colorado, but at the same time not-quite mathematically eliminated from a wild card spot. For the season, they've gone 37-30-10, and have a 7-3-0 record in their last ten games. At home, they're barely a .500 team at 16-15-8. This is our 5th game of the season with them; each team has won twice. The last time, the Blues won 3-0. This will settle the season series.
Their point production has been pretty lopsided on the year. The points leader Jamie Benn has put up 74 points (28 goals, 46 assists), and Tyler Seguin is next with 70 points (team leading 35 goals, and 35 assists). Third is Jason Spezza with 59 points (17g. 42a), and then it drops to rookie defenseman John Klingberg with just 38 points (11g, 27a). In comparison, 38 points would be 10th on the Blues roster. Also, Seguin has only played in 67 games this year, and Klingberg in 60, so that affects things a little bit in those rankings.
It looks like the Stars will be starting Kari Lehtonen in net. He's really carried the weight for them this year, playing in 64 of 77 games this year. That is, he's been a ball and chain for them this year. His stat line is pretty pedestrian: .906 SV% and a 2.88 GAA. He'll be facing Brian Elliott in goal. Watch tonight's shots total. The Blues have been stingy this year, allowing the fewest shots on goal in the league. The Stars have the fourth-most shots on goal for themselves, even ahead of teams that have played 1 or 2 more games than them. The combination of the two should make for a good game. Something's gotta give there, and it'll likely have an impact on who wins tonight.
Our ticket for the playoffs has been acquired. Now, it's just a matter of where we sit. There's a lot to play for, and the Blues can help themselves mightily with a win tonight. Get it while you can, boys. Dallas won't go away easily, though.
Blues vs Stars coverage
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Final Verse: The puck drops at 7:30 PM St Louis time, and the GDT should drop shortly beforehand. Please drop in and say hello! The TV broadcast will be on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. Come watch the game with us. There'll be cursing and drinking, but we're a friendly crowd. First place in the division is up for grabs tonight. Some advice for that, and also a celebration of my favorite Texan: