As disappointing as it may be to have not grasped the opportunity to win the series in Game 6 in Dallas, it’s difficult to complain about having a chance to win the Central Division in a Game 7 finale. There have been ebbs and flows within this matchup, but both teams now have 60 minutes (and potentially some overtime) to continue an unlikely 2019 run.
For St. Louis, this season has gone from winning the offseason, to sitting dead-last in the standings, to riding a Calder Trophy nominated rookie goaltender into an extended playoff run. For Dallas, an untested coach has been able to turn a hodgepodge of defensive pieces into a crease-clearing, puck-moving juggernaut. It’s a team that with some last-minute finds has finally identified two scoring lines to go with that stout defense.
A Games 7 is tough, and tonight’s is no exception. A team can lose a single game in a number of ways. Not showing up ready is the easiest, but with the stakes so high, it could just be not rising to the occasion. Winning, on the other hand, requires the bounces to go your way. Pucks can hop over sticks, or harmless shots from the point can inexplicably find their way into the net. As a player, all you can do is put yourself into a position to win, and when the rare opportunity comes your way, half an inch can be the difference between execution and failure.
Dallas finds themselves a bit banged up going to St. Louis. Ben Bishop is by all accounts healthy and will start. On Monday, Roope Hintz was in a boot for precautionary reasons; not a reason to panic, but Joel L’Esperance did make the trip with the team. More concerning, Hintz did not participate in morning skate, with Jason Spezza taking the center spot on the second line. Brett Ritchie skated as right wing on the fourth line. Joel Hanley is available, but Jamie Oleksiak is not.
The Blues made some lineup changes for Game 6, and they seemed to work. Especially so was bringing in Sammy Blais on the left wing of the top line, as it seemed to balance out the top six and force the Stars to matchup against two evenly matched scoring lines. On the backend, Joel Edmundson looks to have solidified his spot over Robert Bortuzzo.
The Blues didn't run lines in today's skate, but I would expect the same lineup as in Game 6. Sammy Blais said it was going to be the biggest game of his life, so I'm assuming that means he's in ;) #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) May 7, 2019
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Dickinson - Tyler Seguin - Mats Zuccarello
Jamie Benn - Jason Spezza - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Justin Dowling - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Taylor Fedun - Ben Lovejoy
St. Louis Blues Lineup
Sammy Blais - Ryan O’Reilly - David Perron
Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrick Maroon - Tyler Bozak - Robert Thomas
Ivan Barbashev - Oskar Sundqvist - Alexander Steen
Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Joel Edmundson
Keys to the Game
- Goaltending. In a single game, a hot netminder can steal a win.
- The Stars have given up early goals in the first period several times throughout the playoffs. A normal 0-0 score after the first period would be comforting. A lead would feel even better.
- Both teams have veteran superstars capable of winning this game. Watch out for sneaky speed from the young guns, such as Roope Hintz (dare we say Brett Ritchie?), Jason Dickinson, and Miro Heiskanen for the Stars, and Robert Thomas, Sammy Blais and Vince Dunn for the Blues.
The time for talking is over (except maybe a little in-game chirping). Let’s drop the puck.