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Stars At Blues Game Three Preview: Blues Power Play Can Carry The Way

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The Blues' special teams have outclassed the Stars' special teams this postseason. Is that the key to winning this series?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Reaves is in tonight on the fourth line for Steve Ott. Reaves, you may remember scored a goal on Dallas Stars' goaltender Antti Niemi back on December 12th.

Will we see a Reaves dab tonight? His TOI has been well below 7 minutes a game this postseason, so that's limiting his chances to show off his mad skills(sih). Also, Antti Niemi may not be in goal tonight. It may be Kari Lehtonen. Or maybe not. Who knows? Does Lindy Ruff?

"I’m going to remain consistent with what brought us success through the regular season," Ruff said. "I’ll let you guys know about five minutes after warmup tomorrow."

So no. He doesn't know. What we do know is that Tyler Seguin and Patrick Eaves are still injured, in Dallas. They may not be seen until game five this weekend at the earliest. Antoine Roussel, noted annoyance, will be in the line-up tonight. After three ill-advised penalties on Sunday afternoon, two of which resulted in Blues power play goals, one can hope that Roussel sticks to his personal gameplan. After taking the penalty that led to David Backes' overtime winner, you would think that Ruff'd dial Roussel back a notch, but he's an offensive threat.

The Blues on the power play are even more of an offensive threat this off-season, clicking at a solid 28% (the Stars are at 15%). Minimizing the Blues' chances on the man advantage would be a smart gameplan for the Stars, but I think we'll all forgive Ruff if that doesn't happen.

What does need to happen for the Blues is to... wait for it... "play a full 60 minutes." One would assume that at this juncture they would be able to do so, but Sunday's third period proved that they still have issues with keeping their foot on the gas and not playing to protect a lead. The main difference now is that the bad period seems to be the third, not the second. Preferably there isn't a bad period at all - the Blues' maintaining a two goal lead at some point would make life a lot easier on them, and perhaps might even get them to the Western Conference Finals. Fate doesn't smile fondly on teams that don't have a killer postseason instinct, and the Blues have had trouble showing theirs has consistency. Hitch doesn't seem awfully worried, though:

"I think at the end of the day quite frankly it looks worse than it is," he said. "And that was my feeling yesterday. It looked a lot worse than it was. The start of the game is not what we wanted. Even though we were scoring, we were making a lot of puck errors at the start of the game. That was what worried me. I wasn't as nervous or apprehensive watching us in the third period as I was at the start. We scored some goals, but we had a lot of turnovers the first four or five shifts. That's something we want to avoid more than anything."

Let's hope that tonight has something that both looks good and is good - a clean, dominant Blues win in regulation.