It’s amazing what a month-long winning streak can do for a team’s playoff odds. The last time that the Dallas Stars played the St. Louis Blues, the question was how the Blues, who had supposedly won the offseason, could lose the regular season so handily. Of course, GM Jim Nill’s Stars have done that in the past, but that could be chalked up to #Starsing.
Playoff chances, West and East. pic.twitter.com/6clPxQlAMH— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 20, 2019
Much of the credit goes to rookie netminder for St. Louis, Jordan Binnington. In the 16 games since being called up from the San Antonio Rampage, Binnington has put up a record of 12-2-0, while sporting a .937 save percentage and a goals against average of just 1.58.
The Texas Stars faced Binnington three times this year, scoring 12 goals during the games where they faced him. In fact, the last time on the ice against the Stars, he was ejected for going Ed Belfour on Joel L’Esperance.
Jordan Binnington comes to town tomorrow with the Blues. He has an interesting history with Joel L'Esperance https://t.co/iRP2jlfPGH— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) February 20, 2019
While Binnington is getting much of the buzz surrounding the Blues’ current 11-game win streak (a franchise record), the team defense also deserves much of the credit. With him in net, there just hasn’t been any space in the crease for opposition forwards.
Ultimately, what fans will see in tonight’s game is one team that is on a remarkable one-month tear against another team that has been pretty average over that same span. Statistically, you have to like the Blues’ chances, but the hockey gods like to end streaks.
Dallas welcomes back two players who have missed the last several games, Blake Comeau and Ben Bishop. Comeau is expected to draw back in, while Bishop is expected to back up Anton Khudobin, and then get the start on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Offensively, St. Louis has been scoring at a rate of about four goals per game over the last month. That said, they tend to be a one-line team that relies on Vladimir Tarasenko on the power play. David Perron has been on injured reserve throughout the winning streak, and that leaves the Blues with only five players who have scored in double figures.
Defensively, the Blues are big, but with the exception of Colton Parayko, they don’t contribute much in the offensive zone. They will play a tight, structured game that they use to feed an opportunistic offense.
Dallas Stars lineup
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Jason Spezza
Andrew Cogliano - Joel L’Esperance - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun
Anton Khudobin (Ben Bishop will serve as backup tonight.)
St. Louis Blues Lineup
Brayden Schenn - Ryan O’Reilly - Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz - Tyler Bozak - Alexander Steen
Zach Sanford - Oskar Sundqvist - Patrick Maroon
MacKenzie MacEachern - Ivan Barbashev - Robert Thomas
Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo
Keys to the Game
- The St. Louis defense has been able to keeping play out of the center of the ice. The Stars need to get there, and then finish when they have a chance.
- Joel L’Esperance has a history with Binnington, much of it to his advantage. Let the chirping begin.
- This is a Jamie Benn game. The captain needs to spread himself across the score sheet.
Did you know?
The longest winning streak in Dallas Stars history is seven games, which they have accomplished three times. The last time was in 2008.