2016 NHL Playoffs: Dallas Stars vs St Louis Blues Gear Up For Saturday Matinee
Less than 48 hours after tying the series at two games each, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues will face off to see who gets the series lead -- and the momentum -- in this physical, tough round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Neither the Dallas Stars nor the St. Louis Blues believed this would be an easy series.
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock sure didn't. "Everybody knew this was going to be a long, hard series for both teams. I thought both teams, at times, looked tired. They've expounded so much energy in these games. You can throw out Game 3...every game has been right to the wire, and probably will continue to be so."
The other three games in the series have been one-goal games (2-1, 4-3, 3-2), with two of those decided in overtime. Game 4, in which the Stars tied up the series before it shifts back to Dallas, was one of those overtime decisions. The Stars were facing a very long drought of overtime playoff success, and ultimately broke the streak on the eve of Cinco de Morrow.
Does that mean the momentum shifts back in Dallas' favor?
Maybe. The Stars could also look at the remaining three games and take comfort in the fact that two of those will be in their home barn, where they've had a very good rate of success this season. Another piece of bulletin board material is the Ryan Reaves blowing of kisses at the Stars in that blowout loss in St. Louis in Game 3. They've also got the power of Shania Twain behind them.
But the Blues will be just as motivated after surrendering the series lead. They believe that they are wearing the Stars down with their physical style of play, according to defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. They're trying to shake a recent history of playoff bounces, and hope to end one of the longest streaks without winning the Stanley Cup in the league.
It's possible that St. Louis mixes up their lineup, with the possibility that Steve Ott or Robert Bortuzzo draw back into the lineup in place of someone like Ryan Reaves or Joel Edmundson. Though Hitchcock told the media before heading to Dallas that Edmundson isn't likely to come out even if his turnover led to the Stars' first goal in Game 4.
Dallas, on the other hand, is looking at possibly getting one of their injured forwards back. Patrick Eaves took part in line rushes at practice on Friday, though afterwards head coach Lindy Ruff indicated that he is most likely a question mark for today's noon puck drop.
The question before each game of this series is when Tyler Seguin will return to the lineup. It's unlikely that day is today, as Ruff indicated Seguin isn't ready yet. At this time of year, every team is coy on injuries so it's unclear when that day will arrive. General manager Jim Nill earlier this series noted that it would be "4-5 days" after Seguin began skating again. It's unclear if that was 4-5 days total, or 4-5 days of skating with the team. If it is the first, then Seguin would be right around that five day mark now. If it's the latter, then we're looking at Game 7 at the earliest for the dynamic forward's return.
Dallas has managed to find depth on offense with the play of Radek Faksa, Ales Hemsky, and Jason Spezza so far this series. Where Seguin's absence is most keenly felt is the power play, which is clicking along at just 15.2%, the second worst of teams remaining in the playoffs.
Today's game represents a new slate. It becomes a best-of-three series. No time like the present to capitalize on the new look of the series in front of a packed home crowd. The Blues will look to play spoiler. Who comes out ahead? We'll find out when the puck drops at 12 PM CST.