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Playoff-bound Blues go for strong finish in Dallas

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

BLUES (48-22-11) at STARS (42-34-5)

TV: FS-Midwest (HD); FS-Southwest+ (HD)

Last 10: St. Louis 3-4-3; Dallas 3-7-0

Season Series: The teams have played three times this season, with the home team winning all three. Dallas won 3-2 at American Airlines Center on Oct. 13 before losing twice in St. Louis.

Big Story: The Blues are assured of finishing no worse than second in the West, but they may have blown any chance to finish first by losing 4-1 to Phoenix in their home finale on Friday night. The Stars are playing for pride after a late-season slump knocked them out of the playoffs; they were officially eliminated with a 2-0 loss at Nashville on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Blues: This has been a tremendous season for the Blues, who won the Central Division title going away after making the playoffs just once in the past six seasons -- but it's not ending well. St. Louis disappointed the home fans on Friday by dropping their last regular-season game at Scottrade Center, and coach Ken Hitchcock was less than pleased after the 4-1 loss dropped his team to 3-4-4 in its last 11 games.

"This is what happens when you play with skill ahead of work," Hitchcock said in a one-minute press conference after the game. "This is what happens when you don't want to put your work boots on and the other team doesn't want to have anything to do with it. They pushed us out of the game competitively-wise. They made us play and act as individuals. They started with the puck off of faceoffs. They defended well, they blocked shots, they did all the things that we do as a team, and they did them very well.

Stars: With a playoff berth no longer on the line, the fans at American Airlines Center will get a look at some of the team's future. Dallas called up Brenden Dillon, Jordan Benn and Scott Glennie on Friday, and all are expected to see action against the Blues. Rookie goaltender Richard Backman and recent signee Reilly Smith will also play.

"Yea, Bachman will be in goal and you're going see a few of our young guys," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Friday. "You'll see Brenden Dillon and Scott Glennie, and you'll see Reilly Smith tomorrow with our veteran guys. We're going to surround those guys with players that can help them out, and we've got a few injuries so you won't see a few players. We've had guys taking injections here, every day, to get through a game. These same players can't get through a practice without it, so you won't see a couple of those guys in tomorrow's lineup."

Who's Hot: Forward David Backes had goals in four consecutive games before being held off the scoresheet on Friday.

Injury Report: Though both teams have a season's worth of bumps, bangs and bruises, neither has anyone who couldn't play if they had to.

Stat Pack: The Stars have now been outscored 6-1 in the third periods of their last four games. … Dallas is in a 1-for-25 slump on the power play in its last eight games after going 0-for-4 against Nashville.

Puck Drop: The Blues are headed for the playoffs and will have no worse than the second seed in the West. But center David Backes knows his team has to step up its game before the postseason begins next week.

"It's just not enough guys going," Backes said after Friday's loss. "Playoff teams have every guy committed to the team game and contributing one way or another whether it's just starting a faceoff in your end and ending up in another team's end, that's progress. We don't have that buy-in and that accountability, and we haven't in the last few games where we're willing to let the role players play their roles and there's little wins and little details to make sure that we have advantages in all game and we haven't done that consistently enough to win."

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