Last year the Blues came to Dallas for the Stars' pre-season finale and walloped the home town boys 5-0, giving we fans a little cause for concern heading into the regular season opener. The Stars go to St. Louis this year for the pre-season finale looking to win their first on the road, having dropped their only other contest away from the AAC 2-1 in Denver.
Dallas will be without (arguably) its two best players tonight in Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow. Richards is getting the night off to rest, but Brenden Morrow tweaked his groin yesterday in practice (ESPN Dallas) and will sit out, leaving us without another taste of the potent Ribeiro/Morrow combination. 19 year old Tomas Vincour will be the lucky recipient of Mike Ribeiro passes in his stead. Keep your head up, young man.
According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, tonight is a particularly important one for the battle of the Blues defensemen. Carlo Colaiacovo is out as well as Blues D Nikita Nitkitin with a broken wrist. They have three or four prospects battling for the last two positions on the opening night roster.
The Post-Dispatch also says the Stars will get their first look at Jaroslav Halak in a Blues jersey tonight, because that's exactly what the Western Conference needs: Another hot goalie the Stars can't seem to solve (/pessimism). Personally I prefer the fellow they had in net last Saturday in Dallas. Jake Allen, I think it was. He was great.
So armed with their new number one goaltender and a hot competition amongst defensemen, the Blues take aim at a Morrow-less, Richards-less Stars. Don't overreact to the final score. The Blues have shown well in the pre-season beating Chicago the other night and boosting their record to 4-2.
Jamie Benn will center the Richards line with Eriksson and Neal. The lines are expected to look like this:
Kari Lehtonen is expected to play the entire game again. He has allowed only 2 goals in 2 pre-season appearances thus far, but has not played on the road.