By beating the Dallas Stars 6-1 on Tuesday evening, the Blues proved a point - you get Dallas to stop playing their game, and they play right into the Blues' hands. Ill-advised penalties and hits? Interruptions to the run and gun offense? Perfect. Keep that up.
Did St. Louis get under the Stars' skin? Of course they did - you can't blow kisses at a bench and not do that. Lindy Ruff had this to say about the incident:
"I think the players note (the kiss), yeah I think they do," Ruff said Wednesday. "Our guys were embarrassed last night, and that’s stuff you take to heart. That’s stuff you use. We’re a proud team."
Of course they are. They're going to want to stick up for their pride and each other tonight - which, possibly, may mean being rattled again. It may mean putting a six spot up on St. Louis as well - but the Stars haven't shown themselves to be the kind of team that responds to adversity through that, at least not in this series. They're the kind of team that responds to being down 6-1 by trying to see at what weird angle they can get Alex Pietrangelo's neck to bend. They've adopted the Blues' former M.O. of doing stupid things when frustrated. The Blues have mostly stopped this becauses it's a terrible idea.
Wonder where the Stars learned it from?
Putting their foot on the gas and on the Stars' neck would seal the deal - every game, as Ken Hitchcock said, requires them to get better lest the Stars catch up.
"It’s a seven-game series and someone has to win four games," Hitchcock said. "We expected this thing to go the distance. We have to be mentally prepared to go the distance. This is far from over for both teams. We played better in Game 2, we played better in Game 3 and we’re going to have to play better in Game 4. We can’t take a step backwards."
David Backes and his three playoff game winning goals probably agrees. The twelve forwards with a point Tuesday night also agree, I'm sure. David Backes isn't going to brush off the past, but he's not dwelling on it either.
"It’s time to really prove that we're a top-end team in this league. We’ve had failures before and we’ve learned from them," he said. "We’re on a mission… We know what kind of effort we're going to need and we can't take a step backwards in any facet of our game if we want to have success tonight."
If the Blues can continue to focus on their power play - theirs is the best out of all teams remaining in the playoffs at 28.1% - the Stars will have some issues. Their 73.3% rate on the PK is the worst of all playoff teams remaining.
Defense wins series, and with the Blues' solid PK and goaltending, the Stars either need to find a way to catch up, or they need to focus on their style of play without the Blues getting under their skin.
Both of those may be easier said than done.