The Blues road trip continues tonight, although the reviews after their Broadway opening on Tuesday felt like they should've closed down the whole production.
The Blues scoring woes followed them to the Big Apple this week, but unfortunately their defense and efficient goaltending didn't, as they fell to the Rangers by an ugly 5-0. As if that wasn't bad enough, we almost had to suffer losing captain Alex Pietrangelo to the physician's table. Thankfully Petro is "good to go," because the Blues will face off against the high flying, care-free offense of the defending Central Division champion Dallas Stars.
Or maybe not?
This will be the first meeting between the Blues & Stars since we eliminated the Texans in game 7 on the road in last year's Central Division Finals, winning the Note their first Conference Finals berth in 15 years. And if the beginning of this season is any indication, a lot has changed. Thus far, the Stars fire wagon style of offense has only yielded 20 goals in 9 games, only good enough for a 3-4-2 record. Only the Devils have scored fewer goals (18) than the Stars, and only the Avalanche have scored as few goals - and both have done so in one fewer game.
Last year, the Stars were a popular pick as a dark horse to win the West, and in the regular season they did just that despite spotty defending and panic-inducing goalkeeping. This year however, many predicted the bubble might pop, and in the early going the Stars haven't given their doubters much reason to doubt their doubt. But when Jamie Benn , Tyler Seguin , and Patrick Sharp are all on the ice, there's no telling when they could break through. Petro & Co better be ready to skate.
The bright side for the Blues however, is that the Dallas defense is just what this struggling offense needed. For all the struggle the Stars have had to score goals, the Blues are just as bad & trending downward, having scored only 22 times in 10 games, and only thrice over the past 4. Something has got to give tonight...probably. One thing's for sure: at least one (but perhaps both) fanbases will be in Agony after tonight.
TONIGHT'S PERFORMANCE: @ the Dallas Stars
CURTAIN TIME: 7:30 central
BROADCAST OPTIONS: Fox Sports-Midwest (TV); 1120am KMOX (radio)
CAST LIST: via Jeremy Rutherford on STLToday.com:
Alexander Steen-Patrik Berglund-David Perron
Jaden Schwartz-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri-Paul Stastny-Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Nail Yakupov
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko
Yakupov on the fourth line? Already? Huh, and here I thought the kid was looking pretty good. Practice issues, maybe?
CENTRAL CHARACTER: C Paul Stastny - The Chaminade grad started the year hot with 7 points in the first 6 games. But he hasn't seen the score sheet in the last 4. Granted, few Blues have. But if St. Louis is going to be the offensive threat we showed flashes of in the first few weeks of the year, Stastny is going to have to be one of the primary drivers of that production. Hitchcock apparently likes his chemistry with Fabbri and Jaskin on his wings, and a good game tonight against a vulnerable defensive team with issues in goal could be just what Paulie - and the whole team - needs to get back on track.
MAIN ANTAGONIST: D John Klingberg - Make fun of the Dallas defense now while you still can, but Klingberg is not far away from being one of the best puck movers south of Ottawa. He plays about 23-25 minutes a night, and already has 4 assists for a goal-starved offense. Give him the space and he can make the exact kind of long outlet passes the Stars speedy forwards were born to receive. A big key in keeping the Stars offense in check is not giving him that space.
PLAYBILL: Defending Big D is a real fun site with some of the best work of any sun belt hockey blog. Don't forget to check them out!
This is going up a bit later than usual, but for the next couple hours this is your afternoon (...okay, early evening) pregame thread! Which Cubs joke are you most disappointed we can't make anymore? Have you heard Christmas music yet and hate it? Have you listened to Christmas music yet and love it? Let's discuss, shall we?