National broadcast games always seem to end one of two ways: the Blues have a flat performance but still manage to win (yay?) or they absolutely play like shit. Tonight, with the Blues playing the Dallas Stars - who played last night - the game has the opportunity to be the former. The Stars eked out a 4-3 overtime win against the Nashville Predators. They may be tired. They may not be. The Blues have played fairly well against the Stars recently winning four of their last five, but fairly well isn't well enough. The Stars are up in the Central Division now by six games.
A good portion of that is because Dallas has some pretty explosive goal scoring. Led by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, they average 3.25 goals a game, good for second most in the league. They're coming up against a Blues team lead by lead save percentage leader(!) Brian Elliott, who allow a stingy 2.31 goals against a game. The trick tonight is to, for the love of God, not allow 40 shots on goal. This might be easier said than done since the Stars lead the league in SOG - tightness in defensive play will be key. The Blues' defense is sorely missing Alex Pietrangelo, yes, but the high SOG phenomenon started before he went down. Allowing a team like the Stars plenty of scoring chances all but ensures that some will go in. Maybe someone ought to lend Ells a hand. After all, tonight is his 15th consecutive start. Elliott has won five of his last seven starts against Dallas, yes, but his numbers haven't been very Moose-esque: a 2.73 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
Maybe that means that the Blues will have to score more than a goal or two to beat the Stars. As Scottie Upshall told the Blues' GameDay Blog:
"He’s been spectacular. He’s really taken the reins as far as us needing a guy to step up. This time of year, you need guys to elevate their game and it starts with Elliott. He’s been nothing but awesome every game. He makes great saves, keeps us in the matches, he’s professional, he’s doing the right things… He goes about his business. He’s a good pro."
Next step: a forward to do the same. Paul Stastny has typically been solid against the Stars, and Vladimir Tarasenko has ten points in 11 career games against Dallas. Perhaps the re-addition of Jaden Schwartz to the mix will result in goal support for the Blues' under-fire goalie.
If you're away from your TV tonight, NBCSN has a LiveStream of the game set to begin at 6:30 Central. You can view it right here.