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Series Preview: Blues vs. Stars

by Tracey Myers / NHL.com Staff Writer

ROUND 2: St. Louis Blues vs. Dallas Stars

Blues: Defeated Winnipeg Jets 4-2 in best-of-7 Western Conference First Round

Stars: Defeated Nashville Predators 4-2 in best-of-7 Western Conference First Round

Season series: Blues 1-3-0; Stars 3-1-0

 

The skinny

The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars will face off in the Western Conference Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in four seasons. Game 1 is at Enterprise Center on Thursday (8:30 p.m. CT; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). The Stars hope to avenge their seven-game loss to the Blues in 2016. They performed well against the Blues this season, outscoring them 13-7 in four games, and were 19-11-3 after the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. St. Louis was 23-6-4, including an 11-game winning streak from Jan. 23 - Feb. 19. "It's going to be a tough challenge, just like Nashville," Stars forward Jamie Benn said. "Obviously St. Louis has probably been one of the best teams, if not the best, since January. They've been on a great run, so it's going to be another hard-fought battle."

Defense will be key in the second round. The Blues allowed 16 goals to the Winnipeg Jets, sixth in the NHL among the 16 playoff teams. The Stars are fourth with 12 goals against in their six-game win against the Nashville Predators.

"They play tough," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "They're a team that continues to push in waves. That's what makes them good. They've got a team throughout the lineup, there's offensive and defensive players and then obviously their goaltender's really good as well. They've got a good team, so we've got to make sure we bring or best game."

Video: Blues oust Jets in six games, advance to Second Round

 

Game breakers

Blues: Jaden Schwartz had a quiet start to the first round but ended with a flourish. The second-line forward had a natural hat trick in St. Louis' 3-2 win in Game 6. Schwartz had five points (four goals, one assist) in the series.

Stars: Tyler Seguin had six points (two goals, four assists) in the first round, including the secondary assist on John Klingberg's game-winning goal in overtime of Game 6.

 

Goaltending

Blues: Jordan Binnington followed an impressive regular season with a strong performance in the first round. The rookie was 4-2 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. Jake Allen is the backup.

Stars: Ben Bishop, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, was 4-2 with a 1.90 GAA and .945 save percentage against the Predators. He saved his best for Game 6 with 47 saves. Backup Anton Khudobin won 16 regular-season games.

Video: Berube on facing Stars in second round

 

Numbers to know

Blues: St. Louis went 3-0 at Bell MTS Place, where Winnipeg was 25-12-4 in the regular season, in the first round. The Blues continued their success on the road, where they were 21-13-7. Those 13 regulation losses were fourth-fewest in the NHL behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (nine), Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs (12 each).

Stars: The Stars were 15-for-15 on the penalty kill against the Predators. Except for Game 6, when they took four penalties, they stayed disciplined throughout the series.

 

Injury report

Blues: None.

Stars: Mattias Janmark has missed five games with a lower-body injury. Coach Jim Montgomery said the forward was close to returning near the end of the first round, but there was no need to rush him back.

Video: Schenn, Parayko, Maroon on facing Stars

 

They said it

"They've got that top line there that does a lot for that team. They're not only skilled, but they're hard workers. They've got that depth like we do, but they work hard, their [defensive] zone is structured and together. We're going to have to use our play below the goal line to try and expose some holes." -- Blues forward Robby Fabbri

"They're a good team right now. They're playing really good hockey, the best team since January. So, we're going to have a tough test. Get some rest here and get ready." -- Stars goalie Ben Bishop

 

Will win if…

Blues: Binnington continues to handle the pressure well. The 25-year-old has looked calm and collected since the Blues recalled him from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Jan. 5. He could've been rattled after allowing six goals in Game 3 of the first round, but he returned to form by giving up six goals over the final three games of the series.

Stars: They maintain their strong defensive game. Dallas' third line of Andrew Cogliano, Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau slowed down Nashville's top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, who were held to a combined four points. That line will get another test against David Perron, Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko.

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