As the euphoria of a Blackhawks triumph continues to simmer a day after a thrilling Game 7 brought two cities to their knees, it's okay to peek ahead at what's coming next for the St. Louis Blues. The Western Conference champ Dallas Stars will host the best of 7 series with St. Louis and it starts on Friday, per Blues beat reporter Jeremy Rutherford.
Blues-Dallas— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) April 26, 2016
G1: Fri, 7, DAL
G2: Sun, 2, DAL
G3: Tues, 7, STL
G4: May 5, 7, STL
G5: May 7, TBD, DAL
G6: May 9, TBD, STL
G7: May 11, TBD, DAL
That's not all set in stone though. A minute later, Rutherford tweeted this about the outcome of Nashville-Anaheim having an effect on the Blues-Stars series.
The start times for Blues-Dallas series that I just tweeted are subject to ANA defeating NSH in Game 7 Wed. If NSH wins, Gm 3 is 8:30 CT.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) April 26, 2016
The start time for the first game in St. Louis wouldn't be a prime time slab of meat, yet a later 830pm start time that so many hard working folks in Dallas and St. Louis won't like. However, they could be not watching a playoff team so I think they will manage.
Who has the upper hand in this series? At the moment, I'd say the Blues. The Stars didn't blow them out for points and head to head the Blues got the better of them during the regular season, winning 4 of 5 games.
December 12th was their first meeting, and the Blues didn't play a pretty game yet shut the Stars out 3-0 behind a great night from Jake Allen and Ryan Reaves buried the hatchet with a late goal.
December 26th, the two teams engaged in a shootout that lasted nine rounds. In the end, Troy Brouwer scored and Jake Allen finally decided to stop a Star and the game ended in a 3-2 Blues win.
The following day, the Stars shut out the Blues 3-0 in Dallas. They played empty and looked like cement was enclosed around their skates. At the time, it was the third time the Blues had been shut out. Jamie Benn and Patrick Sharp scored. The Blues had nothing and this was easily their flattest performance against Dallas all season long.
February 16th, the Blues won 2-1 in overtime on a Kevin Shattenkirk goal. Brian Elliott, in the middle of his I'm not letting shit into my net streak, stopped 18 shots and the Blues had taken 3 of 4 from the Stars. More importantly, the Stars only managed a single goal.
Finally, on March 12th, the Blues and Stars engaged in a true slugfest, and the Note prevailed 5-4 in overtime on an Alex Pietrangelo(NOT PETER-ANGELO) goal. Shatty added two goals and Allen made 34 saves. The Blues exploded for 3 second period goals but the Stars, aided by Benn, closed the gap in the third period.
The Blues held the Stars to 10 goals in 5 games. A measly two goal average for a team that averaged 3.5 per game over the 2015-16 season. Elliott is a better goaltender than anything the Stars can produce and can take over a game. The Blues have better depth on their lines, especially if Tyler Seguin isn't 100%(he's not). Benn is a lethal weapon but if the Blues found a way to limit the killer combo of Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane to a single goal in seven games, the Stars won't offer much more of a pain than that. The Stars may be goal scoring monsters but the Wild gave them a push and their roster isn't all playoff tested.
The Stars will be tough and have home ice. They were 28-11-2 at home this season but the Blues were 25-11-5 so every game will be a battle.
My quick prediction. The Blues will take this series in 6 games. They have better defense and goaltending, and will be able to restrict the Stars offense just enough to let their own solid offensive stars go to work. Hitch should keep the same lines from Game 7 with Chicago for the series. Elliott may go for another series MVP but Vladimir Tarasenko likes facing the Stars so we shall see.
For the time being, keep a clear mind and breathe a little. There are no Blues hockey games until Friday night. Wednesday's Game 7 between Nashville and Anaheim has an effect(Go Preds), but take a load off. The Blues have knocked down one peg and now must grudge onward. For the first time since early in Hitch's time in St. Louis, the Blues have risen to the land of choked away dreams and unrealized potential to snag a spot at the Semifinals. How about that?
What do you think folks? Early predictions. Vote in the poll below.