ST. LOUIS - Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said for the Blues to get to the next level and clinch another spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs come April, they'll need their goaltending to lead the way.
Currently, the Blues find themselves in third place in the Western Conference, but they can't afford to lose any ground in the second half of the season as the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks are nipping at their heels in the Wild Card spots.
"We need our goaltending to be the story in the second half of the year," Hitchcock said. "It's going to have to be the story if we expect to punch our ticket into the playoffs here. It's going to have to be a major factor to us getting in."
That being said, the Blues planned several days ago to give Carter Hutton the start in tonight's 7 p.m. game against the Dallas Stars at Scottrade Center (FSMW, KMOX), which works out for Jake Allen, who probably didn't get much sleep Friday night after becoming a first-time dad.
His daughter, Lennon Everly Allen, was born earlier Friday.
"It was amazing, it kind of puts everything into perspective," Hutton said of Allen becoming a new dad. "It's awesome for him. I think the boys couldn't be happier… it's awesome for him and his family."
After tonight, expect Allen to return to the net and be the team's workhorse. Hitchcock said they'll use the All-Star break, the five-day bye week in late February and some optional practices to keep him rested.
"We've got lots of time for rest," Hitchcock said. "But we need both our goalies to the story of our team to get to the next level."
Video: Blues set to host Stars
The Blues meet the Dallas Stars tonight having won two of the previous three meetings this season, including the latest one on Dec. 20 when David Perron scored his first career overtime game winner.
The Stars, who had eight of their last nine games at American Airlines Center, will begin a three-game road trip without captain Jamie Benn, who is on injured reserve.
Dallas is 5-9-4 on the road this season ands three points out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking for more consistency in their game. The club hasn't won consecutive games since late November.
"We play really well, and then we find ways to play average," Blues forward Scottie Upshall said. "We need to be able to find ways to put our best game together for numerous games in a row, and consistency throughout our lines and special teams game in and game out. There are moments when we're really good and seem like we're making strides, and then there's times when we fall back and we look average at best. Just focus on 60 minutes at a time, playing well, working with each other and trusting we're going to work together to do the right things.
"Dallas is a great team. They have a lot of offense, we play them a ton, we know their systems," Upshall added. "We're going to have to play hard against their top guys and focus on shutting their offense down."
Tonight will be Patrik Berglund's 595th career game as a Blue, which ties Jamal Mayers for seventh among forwards in team history.
Joel Edmundson has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last 10 games and scored his first goal of the season Thursday vs. Carolina.
Since 2013, only Marian Hossa (10) and Patrick Kane (10) have more goals against the Dallas Stars than Vladimir Tarasenko (nine). Tarasenko leads all players since 2013 in game-winning goals against the Stars with four.
The Blues have earned points in 16 of their last 19 games at home but will play 25 of their final 45 regular season games on the road.