The St. Louis Blues have yet to play anything close to a complete game in the round-robin part of the Stanley Cup restart. Perhaps a rivalry game will bring out that extra spice.
So far in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup restart, we have only seen bits a pieces of the St. Louis Blues. A flash here, a spark there, but nothing resembling a complete game.
Against the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues defense played reasonably well. They allowed far too much pressure and had some defensive gaps in the first period, but started to lock things down in the second and third.
Against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Blues offense found more of a stride. They were still not getting enough sustained pressure, but the offense was very efficient, scoring four goals on 17 shots. Nevertheless, at least there were goals.
What we still have not seen is that gritty style that really gives the Blues their best shot at beating any team. Nobody is asking for playoff intensity just yet, but you cannot think you can turn it on out of nowhere.
The Blues have the perfect opportunity to find some grit this evening as their final game of the round-robin tournament is against one of their big rivals, the Dallas Stars. What better opponent to bring out some of that nastiness than the team they’ve gone seven games against in two of the last four years?
This is just one game, not a series, but both teams have to be looking for something. Neither one has looked all that great in their first two round-robin games and this is one last chance to get a positive feeling going into the actual playoffs.
Dallas had a 3-1 lead against Vegas, only to lose the game. The Blues know all about that.
The Stars just got schooled by Colorado 4-0. The Blues at least kept it close.
However, even as poorly as Dallas has looked, the Blues cannot overlook them. They have to get their own ducks in a row after looking like a group of five individuals the last couple games instead of a complete unit.
Maybe seeing those familiar, irritating faces will spark that playoff intensity for the Blues. Hopefully so, because they need to grab something positive out of this game.
First round opponents
The winner of this game finishes as the third seed in the Western Conference. Vegas finished first and Colorado second, with the loser of this game finishing fourth.
The winner of this game will face the Calgary Flames in the first round. The loser will get to face the Vancouver Canucks.
It is funny how the upsets in the first round shook everything up. Most figured that Calgary would be the opponent of the top seed and instead, they will face the “worst” team coming out of the round-robin part of the tournament.
Personally, I feel like the Blues match up better against Calgary. The Flames have the weaker goaltending situation and a leakier defense. However, I’d prefer St. Louis iron out some of their wrinkles as opposed to worrying about the next opponent.
It has more to do with getting Allen some work, just in case of an injury or sudden positive test. Plus, Allen has a good record against Dallas, going 11-5 in his career against the Stars. That’s the most wins against one team for Allen (tied with 11 wins over Chicago, but a lower win percentage).
No word on any other subs for safety precaution.
No inside information on this, but I would not be shocked to see the Blues top line broken up in this game. Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz have not been that effective, so an experiment with new linemates might be a consideration for this last round-robin game.
As far as the Stars go, they are still unclear if they will have Ben Bishop and John Klingberg in the lineup. Both of them were said to be unfit to play against Colorado, but there was no discussion as to whether it was actual injury or precaution.
Where/When to watch
Today’s game is unfortunately at 2 p.m. CST. Thankfully the Blues switched to the FM side of the dial, so the signal comes in much clearer for those of us that will have to listen on the radio.
NBC, NBC Sports App
According to the team website, this game is only on NBC. I guess with fewer games on each day they are tightening their grip on outside productions. It is no big thing other than having to hear Pierre McGuire.
101 ESPN, NHL App
Honestly, I have no clue how this game will turn out. Much of it depends on what the Blues players want to accomplish as a group.
If they honestly believe they can cruise through and turn it on in the next round, this could get ugly again. I expect Dallas to come out wanting to show they are not as bad as they have looked at times.
However, I believe the Blues will want to play hard enough to at least accomplish something positive. They need to at least feel good about their game because, despite the goals, they had a worse performance in the second game than the first.
With that in mind, though I’m not overly confident, I’ll say Blues find a way to win 2-1.