The St. Louis Blues have been up and down, though mostly down, around the All-Star break. Now, they face the Dallas Stars in yet another attempt to right the ship.
The St. Louis Blues are a bit of a puzzle at this moment in time. Even the guys in charge are not quite sure what to do.
Craig Berube is shifting lines around and bringing in guys from the press box, attempting to find a combination that will spark the team for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Doug Armstrong is reportedly interested in rental players, some of whom he would have to give up a rather prominent rookie for.
Everyone within the Blues is searching for answers. However as Roddy Piper used to say, just when you think you know the answer, someone changes the question.
The Blues have looked like they might have figured things out a couple different times. However, after each time they won or played quite well, they end up having a clunker the next time out.
The same thing just happened. The Blues blew a decent Carolina team out of the water with a 6-3 score and then laid an egg with a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
The worrying thing for St. Louis is the defense. Everyone talks about needing more scoring, but the Blues have allowed three-plus goals in their last eight games and 11 of the last 15. That’s not Blues hockey.
With the Dallas Stars in town, things don’t get much easier. Dallas’ offense is down this year, but they still have the firepower to light up the Blues if they continue making mistakes.
How They Stack Up
The Blues do remain in first place in the division and the conference with 72 points on the season. Dallas and Colorado are right in the rear view mirror however.
St. Louis might not be in a typical slump, since they have only lost one game, but they are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. Being under .500, even if only slightly, is not a way to hold on to a division.
For their part, Dallas had surged up to second in the division. They currently sit in third place with 65 points after having lost their last two games.
Dallas is also 4-5-1 in their last 10. Their two losses were tough ones too, a 4-3 OT loss to the New York Islanders and a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Their offense is not what it has been in recent years, with only 144 goals scored. For reference, as lowly as we sometimes perceive the Blues, they have 176.
However, the Stars clamp down defensively like few other teams. Their 139 goals allowed is the best in the Western Conference and third best in the entire league. That’s not exactly the type of team the Blues need to be facing when the goals are not flowing.
St. Louis has fared well against Dallas thus far this season. St. Louis won their first two meetings, one in Dallas and one at home.
Jake Allen was solid in a 3-1 win against the Stars on the road, so perhaps he will get the start this evening.
From the team website:
Sanford – O’Reilly – Perron
Schwartz – Schenn – Thomas
Blais – Bozak – Steen
MacEachern – de la Rose – Barbashev
Gunnarsson – Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester – Parayko
Dunn – Faulk
Binnington / Allen
I hate to see Jordan Kyrou removed from the lineup again. I’m just not seeing what he’s doing/not doing that the coaching staff doesn’t like.
I get putting Jacob de La Rose and Makenzie MacEachern back in for physicality. You still need speed out there though.
I also don’t get the defensive pairings. It has to be a lefty-righty thing because Petro was playing well with Faulk and now we have the defensive black hole of Faulk and Dunn, neither of whom knows when the other will jump up so neither ends up staying home. I guess they don’t want two righties on the top line and two lefties in Gunnarsson and Faulk on the third.
Personally, I hope Allen gets the start. Jordan Binnington is this team’s starter, but he needs to rest.
A friend of mine posted the other day that Binnington had started 90-plus games in a calendar year now and the average is 70ish. Allen needs to play just to keep Binnington’s legs fresh. You can see that he’s fighting it right now and a breather might be best for him, even if he would never admit it.
The goaltending decision is a gametime choice, so we will see.
The Blues really need a win in this game. This is no longer just they need to play better or have a feel good game, they need to win. Pure and simple.
They are playing a division rival that is surging up the standings. The Blues need a win to squash some of that momentum and establish themselves as a team to be feared, not one that is vulnerable.
This game will be tight. There aren’t going to be any 7-3 scores here.
I’ll side with the home team and say the Blues scratch one out 3-2.