For the last of the round-robin matchups this one will bring out the most attention of Dallas Stars’ fans on the schedule.
Arguably the Stars’ biggest rival in the past five years, and maybe of all time with over a dozen playoff matchups over fifty years going back to the years of the Minnesota North Stars before the relocation to Dallas in 1993 is always an eye-opener come the postseason.
All postseason matchups are important, especially after the round-robin, and the qualifiers when all playoff series/meetings become a best of seven.
For the Stars playing the Blues, the team is always going to be aware that they will be, and may play against again that S. Louis is the team that eliminated them in seven games in the second round in 2016, and again in 2019.
Since the summer of 2019, the Dallas Stars have addressed various areas in their team and game plan. First veterans Joe Pavelski, and Corey Perry were added to address the offense and to add to leadership to a team looking to get past the second round for the first time since 2008 and both forwards have had Stanley Cup Finals experience that includes Perry with the ring from the 2007 Anaheim Ducks Earlier this year, the Stars got back a hard shot from Bill Masterton nominee Stephen Johns who hadn’t played in about two years due to post-traumatic headaches. In arguably the biggest comeback of the NHL, he plays a big physical game which is welcoming come playoff time.
On defense, the Stars acquired a defensive defenseman in Andrej Sekera to solidify that all-important depth on defense. While Denis Gurianov was not acquired from another team, or the free-agent market he did burst onto the scene from the American Hockey League affiliate Texas Stars and has been a mainstay since leading the team in goals with twenty.
The St. Louis Blues picked up where they left off last season as 2019 Stanley Cup champs, holding the best record in the Central division, and all of the West before the pause but still finishing as a top-four Western conference team. St. Louis plays the same defense and goaltending the first game that won the Stanley Cup last year. They also wear teams down due to big bodies on defense like Alex Pietrangelo, and Colton Parayko. The offense is led by team points leader with sixty-one Ryan O’Reilly, and the top goal scorer on the team with twenty-five, David Perron. Last year’s breakout star in net Jordan Binnington will be the starter with veteran Jake Allen as the backup.
While both Dallas, and St. Louis rank closely in many league statistics everybody knows that anything can happen in the playoffs especially when it features a matchup of two long time rivals.
As Stars’ Captain Jamie Benn would say back in late February:
“It builds bad blood and it builds a good rivalry.”
“It’s fun playing the Blues, and I’m sure they like playing us. Two good teams fighting it out.”
The statistic that sticks out the most: the Blues ranking eighteenth on the penalty kill while the Stars rank seventeenth. St. Louis will be without one of their biggest stalwarts on the PK in Jay Boumeester after his unfortunate collapse on the bench in a game in February vs the Anaheim Ducks. There shouldn’t be an end of the world concern about the Stars’ once top ten PK either, not only are Ben Bishop, and Anton Khudobin playing in the net but the Stars were pretty hot and cold as a team this year with various winning and losing streaks.
If Jamie Benn can lead his team to play consistently, and keep that switch on Dallas has as good of a chance as anybody to win the Stanley Cup come October.
If the Stars meet the Blues in the second or third round of the playoffs, may just use that revenge factor to turn the tide against their rival.
Featured Image: Jeff Robertson/AP