Tonight could well be it for round two. If the Blues win, then they await the outcome of the series between the San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators. If the Blues lose, then they head back to Dallas for a decisive and deciding game seven.
It obviously behooves the Blues to finish this up tonight.
They've survived this series so far being able to avoid dealing with Tyler Seguin, and avoiding his introduction into the mix would be nice. Seguin didn't travel to St. Louis for game six; the Stars' high power offense is still missing a key part, while their defense and goaltending is susceptible to a balanced Blues attack.
Despite outscoring the Stars 12-5 in their last three games, the Blues have looked sloppy at times. Mental mistakes cost them the second period of game four, and game five's first period was not a well-orchestrated period of hockey. As the game progressed and Ken Hitchcock reverted to lines that his team was comfortable with, the Blues clicked and the goals came from different sources - some likely, some less so. The Blues are showing their depth right now. What of the Stars?
As Lindy Ruff told Jeremy Rutherford, the Stars felt like they played a solid game that could've ended in their favor.
"It’s not even close to a 4-1 loss," Ruff said. "We pretty well played close to our best game, we just didn’t finish. (We) made a couple mistakes where they got a couple great bounces. There’s some puck luck in the game, and they had all the puck luck. We had crossbar and a post, and we missed probably three or four point-blankers that you’d want to have back.
"But when it comes to the structure and cleaning up some of the rush situations, we played the strongest game defensively and still had the number of chances we’d want to win a hockey game."
And they did - the Stars peppered Brian Elliott for 28 shots and Elliott was absolutely stellar. Stop me if you've heard this before, but Brian Elliott is playing stellar hockey right now, often outshining his team. This is the difference between the Blues and the Stars. If you watch Lehtonen, he's not even on the same level in this series as Elliott. The Stars pay more than $10 million a season for their two-headed goaltending tandem. This isn't money well spent.
Another area where the Blues have outclassed the Stars and continue to do so is with the play of their special teams. The Blues power play is clicking at 27.8%, while the Stars' penalty kill is limping along at 73.5%. Factor in the Stars taking more frustration penalties than the Blues, and sure, Lindy - your team's playing fine at even strength. Maybe get them to stay off of the PK.
Or better yet, maybe not.