Stars Expectations Clash with Reality as Blues Come to Dallas

Two regulation wins could be a blip on the downward trendline that is the Stars 2021-2022 season.

The one game, mid-week trip to Minnesota that the Dallas Stars just finished was a disaster on several levels. The 7-2 drubbing that they took at the hands of the Wild was certainly part of it. It was also a slap in the face of anyone who thought that a two game, regulation win streak against road weary clubs from Philadelphia and Detroit indicated a definitive improvement on the ice.

Dallas looked slow, chased Wild players and the puck for long stretches of the game, and on those occasions where scoring chances appeared, they mainly pounded the puck off the glass or put it into the logo on Cam Talbot’s chest.

When the highlight of the game is Radek Faksa enticing a rookie into a solo glove drop, perhaps you should have been watching Golden Girl reruns instead.

By the end, the team looked utterly defeated, with Miro Heiskanen wristing one out of the blue paint after goal seven found a way to flutter off of Anton Khudobin’s mask and into the net.

What’s scary is that, 15 games in, this is the team that management wanted. Jason Robertson missed a few games to start the season, and John Klingberg’s Gumby act cost him a few games, but those are the exceptions. Dallas has been and is a healthy hockey club.

At least physically.

Mentally, we’ll see. Jamie Benn brought a solid game to Minnesota, and you have to love the compete shown in Heiskanen’s frustration, but the disconnect between early season expectations and the current reality have to take a toll.

Throw in Tufte-gate, a history of management tossing team leaders under the bus, and rookies getting limited minutes, the press box or a quick trip to Cedar Park and what you have is a recipe for disaster. Professionalism may pull the team through, but we could also be in for a long season.

The St. Louis Blues started the season hot, but over the last few weeks, the team has come down to earth. The team beat the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night 4-1, but in the six prior games they put up a less than daunting 0-4-2, including a regulation home loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

Up front, the Blues bring an odd mixture of age/size and youth/speed. Some of the names have changed, but the on ice product should be familiar to seasoned Stars fans. Brayden Schenn is temporarily out with the dreaded upper body injury, but the Blues did get Oskar Sundqvist back after an eight month recovery from a torn ACL.

On defense, Torry Krug pairs with Colton Parayko as a top tier first pair. The Blues will activate from the back end, so expect a push up the ice if the Stars forecheck is ineffective.

Expect Jordan Binnington in net, with or without his antics.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) - Roope Hintz (24) - Joe Pavelski (16)
Jacob Peterson (40) - Tyler Seguin (91) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Michael Raffl (18) - Jamie Benn (14) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Radek Faisal (12) - Luke Glendening (11)

Ryan Suter (20) - John Klingberg (3)
Esa Lindell (23) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Andrej Sekera (5) - Jani Hakanpaa (2)

Jake Oettinger (29)

St. Louis Blues Lineup

Jordan Kyrou (25) - Ryan O’Reilly (90) - David Perron (57)
Pavel Buchnevich (89) - Robert Thomas (18) - Vladimir Tarasenko (91)
Brandon Saad (20) - Oskar Sundqvist (70) - Ivan Barbashev (49)
Klim Kostin (37) - Tyler Bozak (21) - James Neal (81)

Torey Krug (47) - Colton Parayko (55)
Scott Perunovich (48) - Justin Faulk (72)
Marco Scandella (6) - Robert Bortuzzo (41)

Jordan Binnington (50)

Keys to the Game

Composure. Jamie Benn is going to feel the urge to fight a third pair defender. Everybody is frustrated, but sometimes it’s just as much fun to get them to lose their composure (see Faksa highlight above).

Stars forecheck vs. Blues puckmoving defenders. If the Blues get easy zone exits, their rush chances will lead to an always solid cycle. Dallas needs to get on the puck in the offensive zone, or at worst, generate turnovers in neutral ice. The winner of this battle wins the game, unless...

Goaltending. Both netminders have the ability to get hot and steal this one.