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Is Home Ice an Advantage?

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Does Dallas have an upper hand?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In round 1, home ice advantage was a major factor in sending the Blues to round 2. If game 7 wasn't played in the electric confines of the Scott, I'm not sure that the Blues pull out that win. It is simply put too hard to consistently win at the UC. After some late season stinkers against some poorly performing Canadian teams, the Blues let 1st place in the west fall from their grasp. Now they have to face the team they let slip by them; the Stars.

If the Blues take this series to game 7, they will have to win it on the road. Dallas was 28-11-2 on the season at home. Only the Washington Capitals (29-8-4) had more wins at home this season. The Blues played well on the road, notching a record of 25-11-5. The only teams better on the road this season were The Capitals (27-10-4) and the Sharks (28-10-3). Had 3 of the Blues overtime/shootout losses gone the other way, we would have had the same record on the road as the Stars had at home. This is a stat to think about when you consider overtime this season was 3v3. This format would favor teams with dynamic scoring top lines like Dallas and not favor teams like the Blues who play a more physical dump and chase brand of hockey. You must also consider that in the playoffs overtime is played at full strength and there are no shootouts.

So how worried should we be about a taking on the Western Conference leading Stars at home? In my opinion, not so much. Home ice advantage helps drastically if you are unable to close your opponent out in 6 games. During those 6 games, home ice advantage is only about momentum. If you start out on your pond and win both games you have some momentum leading you into theirs. If you can steal a win (or two) there, you're in good position. Remember, the games will be in Dallas, Dallas, St. Louis, St. Louis, Dallas, St. Louis, Dallas. The name of the game in playoff hockey is, win at home and steal one on the road.

The Blues have just finished what might have been their most important playoff series in recent history. For long suffering fans, and long tenures players, it sure felt that way. In my opinion, this series might be better played by the Blues without home ice advantage. Allow me to explain. There are any number of possible outcomes to a hockey game. With the Blues coming off one of the most emotional wins in franchise history, 2 seem more probable than the others. They will either harness that energy and emotion into a stellar performance or they will come out flat after expending all their emotions on Chicago.

Should option 1 happen, and the Blues come out like a juggernaut and win, they could have the upperhand in the series after game 1. They would have already stolen 1 from Dallas, and would simply need to not lose at home to seal the deal. While not losing is much easier said than done, in playoff hockey it is much easier to win at home.

Should option 2 happen, and the blues come out flat and lose, they have time to collect themselves. Dallas is supposed to win their games at home. A back to reality game 1 loss could be a functional reset. After dropping a game they should have, the Blues could emotionally reinvest in this series, and come back to attempt to steal game 2 or 5. A loss in game 1 wouldn't necessarily be a set back.

Should this series have been played out the other way, St. Louis would all but have to win game 1. A shocking loss at home in game 1 after defeating the world champs could be the final straw to break the backs of a team who has struggled with adversity all season. Being allowed to start on the road, in this one rare instance, might be a blessing.

These two teams meet Friday for game 1. They couldn't have had any more different series to start off their push for the cup. Dallas played the Wild who were without their arguable top 2 players in Vanek and Parise. Dallas beat them in 6. It wasn't a push over, but it should have been. A wildcard team without 2 of its top players should have been an easy out. Dallas got a soft draw but were unable to put them away commandingly. The Blues played the defending world champion Blackhawks. The series was an instant classic that went 7 games. There was only 1 game decided by more than a single goal, with 2 games going to overtime. The Blues had arguably the toughest draw in the western conference and won. Not only that they finally shook the chip off their shoulder of being second best to their arch rivals. St. Louis and Chicago sports rivalries have always been some of the best in the nation. The only rivalry arguably better is New York and Boston. Had the Stars commandingly shut down an injured Wild team, they could have gained momentum leading into the series with the Blues. They were able to get an extra day's rest over the Blues, but that is all. I feel like the team with momentum heading into this series hails from St. Louis. Only time will tell.

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