The St. Louis Blues are primed and ready to face the Dallas Stars. They are also picking up steam among the national pundits.
The St. Louis Blues have plenty on their plate as they get ready to face the Dallas Stars. That is where their focus has to stay.
As for the rest of us, we have lots of things to discuss. The Blues are facing a different challenge in their current opponent, but no less difficult than the last.
The team is getting more and more national attention, which almost feels weird given our status as a mid-level market.
It is also hard not to feel nervous given the amount of attention given to some of the best guys on the Stars.
It is also hard not to believe in the Blues players given all they have accomplished.
One other thing, the Stars are pulling a page from their previous opponent, the Nashville Predators, regarding away fans.
Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken
The Blues had the guts to tweak things toward the end of the Winnipeg Jets series. They made some necessary changes to win, after having so much success with a different roster prior to that.
In that same vein, the Blues will be sticking with the same lineup they finished with. The difference now is we know Craig Berube has the will and the sense of when he would need to change it.
St. Louis is sticking with a top line or Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko. While I would not have had a problem with a return of Brayden Schenn to that line, this actually makes more sense.
For the kind of game they like to play, it makes sense to have a right handed player on there instead of three lefties.
If nothing else, it makes sense to pair the two wingers with O’Reilly. While they were all kept relatively quiet by the Jets, Tarasenko and Perron have been at their most productive playing with number 90.
Regardless of who is on that line, the Blues need their top line to produce. You can get by here and there, but eventually it will become near impossible to win without your best being their best.
Don’t Plan Your Road Trip
The Nashville Predators have been doing this for a few years now, but count the Dallas Stars in the club of teams making things difficult for road fans. They have put a block on certain addresses through Ticketmaster.
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According to Fox2Now, the Stars Ticketmaster account blocks addresses from Missouri and Illinois.
Only addresses from Texas and border states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico can get tickets to Game 3 and 4 of this series. That is to say they are the only ones that can get them through Ticketmaster.
For those willing to pay extra on the secondary market, there is no way to block Blues fans from getting their tickets in Dallas of StubHub or other such sites. You just are not likely to get face value.
Personally, after doing it for a college football game, I would not attend away games. The only way to do it is to go with a large group of fans of your own team. There is no such organized trip for this series.
It just seems too much of a hassle, unless you are a Blues fan living in Dallas and this would be your only way to ever see a playoff game. Good luck to those of you who try.
Never Tell Me The Odds
Fans of the Star Wars saga know that line. Some people love to know what kind of chance they have of success. Others, such as Han Solo, like to fly by the seat of their pants and hope for the best.
Those that like to know might be pleased with the prognosticators. According to the bet makers at Caesars Palace, the Blues are tied for the best odds to win it all.
They are even with the Boston Bruins at +350. I won’t pretend to know exactly what that means, but bettors do. Near as I can tell, if you bet $100 on the Blues, you would win $350.
This is not the first time the Blues have been picked to win things. A few years ago, they were picked by EA Sports’ simulators to take the Stanley Cup.
In typical Blues fashion, they crashed and burned early on back then. This is a different time and a different team.
Hopefully a little national recognition does not go to their head and they focus only on the task at hand.
One of the interesting comparisons made in this series is the defensive corps of both teams. No matter who you talk to, most figure that is where the Blues have an edge.
Now, the question is apparently how much of an edge. Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News asked the question of whether the Blues actually have the best defense in the NHL.
The point DeFranks brings up is how many Stars players said the Predators had the best defense. At the top of their ranks, that might be true.
From top to bottom, the Blues might have a better crew. I am unsure if I buy into that, but that’s because the early season part of their game makes it hard to completely buy in.
The Blues had some of the best offense from the blue line. They had three guys with 10 or more goals, which puts them with the Stars as the only teams to have that.
As pointed out in the article, the Blues were top five in shot attempts allowed, shots on goal allowed, high-danger chances against, expected goals allowed and goals allowed. Some of that has to do with Jordan Binnington, but plenty has to do with finally sticking to a system.
That is going to be key for this team. When they stay within themselves and stick to their system, they can stop some of the best. When they do not, we get 6-3 games like the loss to the Jets in Game 3.
Fingers crossed they stick to the plan and do not leave open space in the high profile areas like they did early in 2018-19.