It has been nearly a year (October 24th, 2009) since the Dallas Stars defeated the St. Louis Blues in a contest with real points on the line. They lost the final three meetings last season and have a 2-5-1 record against the Blues over the course of the last two years combined. The Blues have become, for whatever reason(speed?), a very tough match-up for the Dallas Stars.
A glaring statistical dichotomy jumps out at you when looking at these team's start to the season: Shots for and shots against. The Stars have a negative differential of -12.6 (shots for minus shots against) while the Blues are +15.7! They allow only 22 shots a game compared to Dallas' charitable 34 SA/G. If the Stars want to slow down the Blues quick start to the season they'll have to limit the number of pucks Kari Lehtonen sees tonight.
This will be our first look at Jaroslav Halak in a Blues uniform. For those of you who may not remember (or care), Halak carried the Canadiens through several rounds of playoff upsets in the post-season before being traded (for some reason) to St. Louis.
The Richards, Eriksson, Neal combination is among the highest scoring lines in the league through 3 games. They'll look to continue their hot start tonight at 7:30pm CDT. Not 7:00pm like your tickets say. People must have time to watch Mariano Rivera work again before the hockey game starts.
More after the jump...
Dallas will once again be without Jamie Benn who is still slowly working his way back from his concussion-like symptoms stemming from a hit taken one week ago in Long Island.
Subsequently the lines will look something like this:
Neal- Richards- Eriksson
Fabian Brunnstrom, of course, has been put on waivers, cleared, and will head to Cedar Park next week to start a new chapter in his North American hockey career.
Benn is back to skating and looks like he could be ready at any time but the team wants to take things slow with their very young, very talented left wing. Still, we wouldn't mind seeing him on Monday provided that he's alright. If the Stars manage a W tonight, however, I would consider holding Benn out and giving him until Thursday in Florida.
Tonight's mission: Get more than 15 shots on goal. It worked against Detroit and their abnormally high shooting percentage is very nice, but that never lasts for any team.
And stay out of the box, por favor.
The St. Louis Blues are trying to win with a cheap payroll and younger players. Sound familiar? They've been at it for a couple of seasons now and the biggest problem they present the Stars with is speed.
Marc Crawford mentioned his own teams speed after the Detroit game. "We've been practicing at a pretty high tempo and that's been carrying over into our games. That's a trend we'd like to continue." They'll need it to continue if they're to deal effectively with McDonald and Oshie tonight.
This is the first time (don't quote me on this) that the Stars face ever faced Jaroslav Halak.
The Blues started 2-0 but fell to the Predators in their third outing due to one poor first period. The Stars will have to jump on them early in similar fashion.
St. Louis held a good Flyer team to just 1 goal on opening night and they scored 5 against Jonas Hiller and the Ducks on more than 50 SOG.
Head over to the always abrasive St. Louis Game Time if you want a little Blues flavoring during the game.