Lighting the Lamp with Rick Ackerman
Home, sweet home! The St. Louis Blues have not exactly replicated last season’s excellent road record, now having lost seven of ten games away from home, outscored 39 to 27. Last season, the Note was 25-11-5 for 55 points in 41 road games. Thankfully, St. Louis is currently 9-1-2 at home so far this season, outscoring opponents 31-21.
Domination within the division continues as well for the Blue, who are currently 5-2-1 for 11 points, with 24 goals for and 20 against. Last season, St. Louis was 20-6-4 for 44 points against divisional rivals, scoring 81 goals and allowing 66 against.
The Blues will be seeking a measure of revenge against the visiting Dallas Stars tonight after an early November shellacking in Dallas. Jake Allen made only 21 saves as the Stars scored six times, with center Tyler Seguin racking up four assists. Antti Niemi starred for Dallas, stopping 28 of 30 shots against. Paul Stastny and Alex Pietrangelo each had a goal and an assist for the Note in that blowout.
The Stars began NHL play 23 years ago after being relocated from Minneapolis by owner Norman Green due to poor attendance, rising costs, refusal of civic leaders to build a new arena and personal problems. The old Reunion Arena, built in Dallas in 1980 became the new home of the franchise, seating 17,001 for hockey. The first game in Texas on October 5, 1993, resulted in a 6-4 victory over Detroit in front of 16, 914 new fans. The outdated facility was replaced in 2001 by the American Airlines Center, seating capacity 18,532. It was the heart of a commercial renewal project in downtown Dallas called Victory Park. Taxpayers okayed a new hotel and rental car tax to defray construction costs. It also helped that American Airlines ponied up almost two million dollars for the naming rights.
Since moving to Texas, the Stars have qualified for the playoffs in 14 of 23 seasons of play. Dallas lost to the Red Wings in the Conference Finals in 1998 and consequently won the Stanley Cup in 1999, knocking off the Buffalo Sabres in triple-overtime of the sixth game. We all know who scored that controversial goal, eh? Dallas would return to the Cup Finals in 2000, yet lost to New Jersey in six games.
The Blues and Stars have tangled four times in postseason play. Dallas won the first two series in 1994 and 1999, while St. Louis took series in 2001 and 2016. The Stars have a slight edge in games, winning 11 of 21 contests.
If the playoff record against the franchise is to be considered, the Blues and North Stars met nine times in the 26 seasons of play in Minnesota. St. Louis won five of those series, with a total of 28 victories. Minnesota took four series, with a total of 26 games won. The Blues have a slight franchise lead winning seven of 13 total series and 38 of 75 total games.
There have been nine trades between the two franchises, six with Minnesota and three with Dallas. From August 1970 until June of 1979, former North Stars joining the Blues included Bob McCord, Harvey Bennett Jr., Bob Stewart, Bob Murdoch, Bryan Maxwell and Ritchie Hansen. I would venture a guess that even the old-timers don’t remember more than two of these players, the most prominent being defenseman Bryan Maxwell, who played parts of two seasons wearing the Note, scoring an unremarkable four goals and 25 points in 97 games. Defenseman Bob Stewart also played two seasons in St. Louis, with five goals and 19 points in 88 games. In return, Minnesota received cash and two second-round draft picks, neither of which panned out.
Trades with Dallas were somewhat more fruitful. In October 1995 the Blues traded center Guy Carbonneau to the Stars for center Paul Broten. After 13 productive seasons as a checking center for Montreal, Carbonneau, with three Selke Awards to his credit, joined the Blues and played half a season before going south to Texas, where he played five more seasons, culminating in a Stanley Cup championship in 1999. Broten played 17 games for St. Louis with one assist. He was demoted to the AHL Worcester IceCats and never returned to the NHL.
The best remembered trade saw Roman Turek become the Blues’ number-one goaltender in June 1999 in exchange for a second-round draft pick (Dan Jancevski). Turek was the Ryan Miller of his day as his presence on the Blues’ roster was seen as a ticket to a long playoff run and possible championship. Turek was spectacular during the regular season of 1999-2000 (1.95 goals against average and .912 save percentage). And then the San Jose Sharks happened in the opening round of postseason play. The Sharks scored 20 goals against Turek and eliminated the Blues in seven games. The two-time Jennings Award winner had another good season in 2000-01 and helped St. Louis to two revenge-minded playoff series wins over the Sharks and Stars, yet he played poorly in the Conference Finals and the Blues lost in five games to Colorado. Turek was dispatched to Calgary (for Freddy Braithwaite, Daniel Tkachuk and Sergei Varlamov) the following summer, becoming the Brian Elliott of his day. Jancevski played parts of three seasons for Dallas, pointless in seven total games.
And finally, in June 2004, the Blues added goaltender Jason Bacashihua in exchange for the rights to defenseman Shawn Belle. Bacashihua played 38 games in two uneventful seasons for the Blues, while Belle never played a game in Dallas.
A rare Monday night contest calls for a Blues’ miracle win tonight, right?