Game 1 didn't have the outcome that we wanted, but it could have been much, much worse. The Stars are a really good team, well-rested, and on home ice. The Blues were faced with the challenge of playing an emotional 7-game series, coming to a cold stop, and then trying to re-start again against a different opponent. My worst-case scenario was for the Blues to have their heads still in Game 7, and for the score to be 4-1 in the first period before they woke up. While there was some emotional debris (as Hitch put it) in the way, it wasn't too bad. A little is inevitable, I suppose, as long as the game is played amongst humans.
So with all that being said, the Blues entered the third down by only one goal, and through tenacity was able to tie it up. Something that occurred to me during the game was that Game 1s are often about feeling-out the other side and sizing up how they react to different pressures. If so, perhaps the true advantage to "Home Ice" is in Game 1, rather than Game 7. That was something else Dallas had going for them. And yet, with those advantages, the Dallas Stars only won by one goal. Neither team had any real domination of the game. If the Blues can fix some leaks in their game, clear their heads, and Vladimir Tarasenko can get back to the art of shredding defenses.... we should be just fine. It should be a fun ride, to say the least.
Not much will change with Game 2. The only roster change for the Stars is the injury to Patrick Eaves will allow Valeri Nichushkin to slide into the lineup. Coach Hitchcock says everyone is healthy, even Alex Pietrangelo - who fans were concerned about after the game. As before, Scottie Upshall took a maintenance day and Magnus Paajarvi was his place-holder in practice on Saturday. Interestingly, Ryan Reaves took the place of Steve Ott on that line. If there were any lineup changes for the Blues, Reaves for Ott might be the most likely. However, one of the best shifts of Game 1 came from the fourth line. Taking out Ott might be heresy in some parts. In any case, we're talking about the fourth line here: 8 minutes or less of game time. It looks like the heart of the roster will stay the same, including the defensive pairings.
I'd like to see the Blues stay out of the penalty box in Game 2. There's no gain in giving Dallas another advantage. So far the Stars haven't scored on the power play, but I wouldn't play with that fire too long. No surprise, but Brian Elliott was the best player for the Blues again, and will need to continue to be so for this series. For the Stars, goalie Kari Lehtonen didn't have to work too hard to get the win, but was there when he needed to be. If the Blues shore up their game, it will result in more pressure on Kari. Keep applying that pressure until he is shattered and Lehtonen more goals. Sorry.
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Final Verse: An afternoon matinee for the playoffs, with the puck dropping at 2PM St Louis time. If there was ever a game for overtime - this is it. The TV broadcast is on NBC and the radio call will be on Y98.1 FM. The GameDay Thread should drop shortly before the puck does: come join us, won't you? Hopefully there will be more puppy gifs this time around. I know it seems early for Pantera, but let this be your eye-opener for this morning. Also, if you listen closely, you'll catch a familiar power play tune at Scottrade: