Every round of the Stanley Cup playoffs brings out the Magic 8 Balls better known as "hockey pundits" with their predictions. Many of these are based on a gut feeling, many are based on statistical number crunching. Some are based on regular season records, some are focused on one particular stat, such as save percentage.
Whatever they're based on, this round the decision seems to be going in the Blues' direction.
Obviously, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are going to pick the Blues, and every writer has done so. Jeremy Rutherford has the Blues in six, saying:
The only concern, and it's a big one, is getting into a track meet with the high-scoring Stars. The Blues have to prevent that from happening and stay out of the penalty box. This is a winnable series, but the Blues will have to work just as hard as they did against the Hawks.
This might be the factor that's pushing this series to six games in his eyes.
More surprisingly, every single sports columnist at the Dallas Morning News thinks that the Blues will win too. Oof. Have some faith, guys!
Get your bulletin boards ready. The Dallas Morning News hockey writers and columnists have spoken. We reached out to the SportsDay crew that will be in the press box during the Stars-Blues series and asked them for their predictions.
The result? Unanimity. All five of our hometown experts think the top-seeded Stars will fall at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.
Before you storm our offices at 508 Young St. with pitchforks (seriously, please don't -- we prefer strongly worded letters), keep this little tidbit in the back of your mind: All five of these guys predicted the Stars-Wild winner correctly, with three of the five getting the amount of games exactly right, too.
So, if both hometown newspapers are predicting the Blues will win (mostly in six or seven games), what are the national guys saying? ESPN already strongly favors the Blues, as we've seen. CBS Sports' Adam Gretz and Chris Peters both pick the Blues in 6. USA Today's staff? Straight Blues.
The Blues climbed a major mountain in beating the Chicago Blackhawks in the first-round, but Chicago isn’t as deep as the Stars. Dallas developed a strong defensive identity near the end of the season, and I think their balance of speed and size will be too much for the Blues to handle.
Overall, the best of the playoff predictions come from two former players - Ryan Whitney and Mike Rupp, who look at the second round over on the Players' Tribune. Peppered in with personal playoff remembrances (fun fact: Scott Stevens' locker room nickname was "Dad") are their analysis of each round, East and West. Both pick the Blues over the Stars. Both guys like the Stars and respect their offensive capabilities (how do you not?) but they also have a heady respect for the Blues' defense and goaltending.
Whitney, who was at the Blues' training camp twice on a PTO, had this to say about the team:
I went to St. Louis’s training camp two years in a row on a trial. That is such a great group of guys. They are as close-knit as I’ve seen any NHL locker room. They have really grown together as a core — Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Backes, Steen. The organization had patience, which is rare these days, and they finally slayed the dragon when they beat Chicago. I couldn’t be happier for them. Kudos to those two teams for one of the best first-round series of all time.
He's had nothing but kind words about the Blues this post-season. Here's hoping that his - and everyone else's - are right.