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Second Round

Blues vs. Stars playoff preview

St. Louis, Dallas each brings stingy defense to second round

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

St. Louis Blues vs. Dallas Stars

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

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

Season series: STL 1-3-0; DAL 3-1-0

 

The skinny

The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars will face off in the Western Conference Second Round for the second time in four seasons. Game 1 of the best-of-7 series is at Enterprise Center on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).

The Stars hope to avenge their seven-game loss to the Blues in 2016. Dallas, which outscored St. Louis 13-7 in four games this season, was 19-11-3 after 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.

St. Louis was 24-6-4 to finish the regular season, including an 11-game winning streak from Jan. 23-Feb. 19.

"It's going to be a tough challenge, just like [the] Nashville [Predators]," Stars captain Jamie Benn said, referring to their first-round opponent.  "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."

Video: Previewing Second Round matchup between Blues, Stars

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 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."

 

Game breakers

Blues: Jaden Schwartz had a quiet start to the first round but ended with a flourish. The second-line forward scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 with 15 seconds remaining in the third period and scored a natural hat trick in St. Louis' 3-2 series-clinching win in Game 6. He had five points (four goals, one assist) in the series.

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

Video: Stars finish off Predators in six games to advance

 

Goaltending

Blues: Jordan Binnington followed an impressive regular season with a strong performance in the first round, going 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 as the best goalie in the NHL, was 4-2 with a 1.90 GAA and .945 save percentage against the Predators. He saved his best for Game 6, when he made 47 saves. Backup Anton Khudobin had 16 wins in the regular season.

 

[RELATED: Binnington vs. Bishop goalie analysis]

 

Numbers to know

Blues: St. Louis went 3-0 in the first round at Bell MTS Place, where Winnipeg was 25-12-4 in the regular season. That continued its success on the road in the regular season, when they were 21-13-7. The 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 were disciplined throughout the series.

 

Injury report

Blues: None.

Stars: Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (lower body) will not play in Game 1. Forward Mattias Janmark will be available after missing five games with a lower-body injury.

 

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

Video: Stars, Blues clash in Central Division rivalry

"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 have been rattled after allowing six goals in Game 3 of the first round, but he returned to form, 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 held Nashville's top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson to a combined four points. That line will get another test against David Perron, Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko.

 

Blues projected lineup

David Perron -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz -- Brayden Schenn -- Oskar Sundqvist

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Robby Fabbri -- Ivan Barbashev -- Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarsson -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson -- Vince Dunn

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Michael Del Zotto, Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Jared Coreau

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Alexander Radulov

Jason Dickinson - Roope Hintz -- Mats Zuccarello

Andrew Cogliano -- Radek Faksa -- Blake Comeau

Mattias Janmark -- Jason Spezza -- Tyler Pitlick

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen -- Roman Polak

Taylor Fedun -- Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Julius Honka, Valeri Nichushkin, Justin Dowling, Landon Bow

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