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Preview: Dallas Stars @ St. Louis Blues (7:00pm CST)

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7:00pm start on Fox Sports Southwest, and on NHL Network nationally if you abide elsewhere.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There exist a lot axioms the pundits trot out every hockey season about making the playoffs. If you don't have a playoff spot at (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, etc) you're not likely to get one. Etc, etc.

The Stars technically had one just recently, though it was the last Wild Card slot in the West. If you look this morning you'll see that the surgin Nashville Predators occupy it, though with the same 23 points the Stars have.

So- Close enough?

(A year ago the 17-5-0 Dallas Stars had 34 points and a strangle-hold on just about everything. A little perspective never hurt anyone.)

Close enough isn't going to cut it for much longer, of course, and the Stars have not been able to use a home-heavy schedule of late to make much headway. The result? They now face another protracted road swing during which they simply must claw their way beyond a .500 mark on the trip.

First up are the St. Louis Blues who dispatched them with so much facility at the AAC in May.

Dallas enjoyed a 2-1 win over the Canucks Friday night and a rare two-day respite for Lindy Ruff and his staff to scheme, practice, and review video ahead of the trip.

Patrick Eaves took the day off Sunday, as is customary for the bearded puck magnet. Jamie Benn, however, continues to look, err, not like himself, yet is not missing any practice time. Which is interesting depending on your line of thinking where the Stars captain is concerned.

The defense figured to be un-changed from the skin-of-their-teeth two point effort on Friday the rules tell us we must technically consider a win.

Jiri Hudler is skating- Practicing, even, but will not go on the trip. Neither will Johnny Oduya, at least to start, thus the call-up of Stephen Johns Sunday morning after his big weekend down in the American Hockey League.

Antti Niemi was brilliant on Friday- That should translate to a start on Monday. Or will it? He's been great on home ice. The numbers are not the same away. We'll see what Ruff and company think after morning skate later today.

The Blues last met the Minnesota Wild- And the game went to a shootout, why not, as the league's by-far most contentious division hands out points at shocking rates per usual.

St. Louis won in a shootout, improving their mark to 12-7-3 on the year and marking the seventh straight outing in which the Blues have scored three or more goals- Offensive totals the Stars might have dismissed last season but this year look seemingly impossible on any kind of consistent basis.

The Blues have a negative goal differential. They've won 12 and lost 10. That's not so great, right?

Try their 9-1-2 record at home on for size. They don't lose there. In 10 of those 12 games they've allowed two or fewer goals. They just don't get scored on at home. They've allowed just three power play goals at Scottrade in 49 kills (94% Pk). They've been out-shot just five times at home in twelve games.

Their injury list, in contrast to Dallas' comedic offering, has nothing of any consequence on it.

Their lineup:

  • Schwartz-Stastny-Perron
  • Fabbri-Lehtera-Tarasenko
  • Jaksin-Berglund-Rattie
  • Upshall-Brodziak-Reaves

  • Bouwmeester-Pietrangelo
  • Bortuzzo-Shattenkirk
  • Gunnarsson-Parayko

  • Jake Allen
  • Carter Hutton

From Stars PR:

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS

The Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues meet on Monday night in St. Louis for the second of four games during the 2016-17 regular season. Dallas and St. Louis meet for the first time this season at Scottrade Center, where the Stars have collected points in six of the last eight games (4-2-2) on the road against the Blues, with a 0-1-2 record during the 2015-16 campaign. In the first game of 2016-17 season vs. St. Louis, the Stars defeated the Blues, 6-2, on Nov. 3, 2016 at American Airlines Center. Forward Tyler Seguin registered a season-high four points (0-4=4), with captain Jamie Benn adding a season-best three points (0-3=3) and defenseman John Klingberg tying a career-best with two goals (2-0=2). Goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 28-of-30 shots to record his third victory of the season. The Stars' special teams registered a power play goal (1-for-4) and killed off all of the Blues' opportunities on the man advantage (3-of-3).

IF I WERE A RITCH MAN

Forward Brett Ritchie recorded an assist (0-1=1) on Friday night against Vancouver and now is riding a career-long three-game point streak (2-1=3) with points in four of his last five games (3-1=4). Ritchie saw his two-game goal streak (2-0=2) snapped on Friday, which tied his career-long for a goal streak which he set over the first two games of his NHL career from Dec. 31, 2014 - Jan. 3, 2015 (2-1=3). Ritchie has eight points (6-2=8) in 22 games this season and shares third on the team in goals (6) and ranks fourth in shots on goal (45). The forward tied his career-high for most goals in a single season (6) with a goal on Nov. 23 against Nashville and is one point away from matching his career-best in points (6-3=9) set during the 2014-15 campaign. The native of Orangeville, Ont. was originally selected by Dallas in the second round (44th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and has registered 18 points (12-6=18) in 61 NHL contests. In four career games against the Blues, Ritchie has eight shots on goal.

JUST THE FAKS, MA'AM

Forward Radek Faksa potted a goal (1-0=1) against the Canucks on Friday and now has points in a career-best three consecutive games (1-2=3). The forward previously recorded points in two-straight games three times during his NHL career, most recently from April 3 - 7, 2016 (1-2=3). Faksa has skated in 22 games this season for Dallas, sharing sixth on the team with eight points (2-6=8) and ranking first on the club with a +3 plus/minus rating. Among team forwards, he ranks first with 19 blocked shots and second with 17 takeaways. The native of Vitkov, Czech Republic made his NHL debut last season and recorded 12 points (5-7=12) with a +9 plus/minus rating in 45 games with Dallas. His +9 rating was the ninth-best plus/minus rating by a rookie in franchise history and eighth-best since the team moved to Dallas. In three career games against the Blues, he has logged two penalty minutes.