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Will home ice matter in Game 7? Stars don't think so

Dallas enters its decisive series finale with plenty of confidence despite being on the road: 'This is what legends are made of'

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- In no other sport does playing at home mean so little in the postseason, so maybe the Stars aren't in a bad place playing Game 7 of their second-round playoff match-up at Enterprise Center Tuesday (7 p.m. CT; NBCSN; KTCK).

Heading into Monday's games, home teams were 35-31 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. More importantly, both the Stars and Blues have been better on the road than they have at home. Dallas is 3-3 at home while scoring 2.83 goals and allowing 2.50. The Stars are 4-2 on the road, averaging 2.83 goals per game and allowing 2.17.

 

['BISH' MODE: Bishop ready to start for Stars in Game 7 after injury scare]

 

St. Louis has an even bigger swing. The Blues are 5-1 on the road while averaging 3.17 goals and allowing 2.33. They are 2-4 at home while scoring 2.17 and allowing 3.00.

Included in that are two Dallas wins at Enterprise Center in this series.

Now, everyone says throw out the records for a Game 7, but those are pretty interesting numbers.

Video: Monty on Game 7: 'This is what legends are made of'

"I think the road is a perfect spot for us to play," said Stars winger Andrew Cogliano. "I think we're more confident in how we've been on the road all playoffs, I think we're going to simplify our game and we're going to play a game that, like I said, has got us here in the first place. And if we do that, we're going to have a strong game and a chance to win."

Stars goalie Ben Bishop said he is "all good" after getting hit in the collarbone in Game 6. He said he practiced Monday morning and felt fine, and he's looking forward to playing Game 7 in front of friends and family in St. Louis.

That said, he's repeating the same mantra that most players are -- that home ice doesn't matter and that everything is focused on the ice when the puck drops.

"I guess it's neat, but once the game starts and whatnot, you're not thinking about anything like that," Bishop said. "It's all business. Once the game starts, you're not thinking about where you are or who you're playing. It's just going out there and doing your thing."

Bishop has done his thing pretty well in the playoffs, gathering a 4-2 road record with a 2.15 goals against average and .935 save percentage. His counterpart, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, is 2-4 at home with a 2.82 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Video: Stars embracing opportunity in deciding Game 7

Bishop has done his thing pretty well in the playoffs, gathering a 4-2 road record with a 2.15 goals against average and .935 save percentage. His counterpart, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, is 2-4 at home with a 2.82 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Like Bishop, Blues players are focusing more on Tuesday than on the past. St. Louis coach Craig Berube said his team might even flip the mental script here.

"I just think put the noise behind us, you know, and just play," he said. "Treat it like a road game as much as we can, play a simple brand of hockey and get to our game as quickly as possible. Just keep the noise out and focus on playing."

There will be noise. These two teams have each overcome adversity this season, and one will be advancing to the Western Conference Final. That means both fans bases will be hyped up and a fairly sizable national audience also will be tuned in.

"I'm sure you guys are going to have a bunch of articles blowing this thing up, right?" Blues forward Pat Maroon told reporters in St. Louis Monday. "So yeah, just try to ignore the situation, just ignore all the stats and all that stuff. We've just got to go out there and compete and just do what we did (in Game 6). I don't think anyone believed in us (Sunday) and we got it done. So now we just have to keep having that belief system."

Video: Bishop on getting nod in Game 7 after injury scare

And maybe that's as important as where the game is played.

The Stars were able to play fast and relentless in winning Games 4 and 5. The Blues were able to play slower and more methodical in winning Game 6. So the team that is able to dictate tempo and pace in Game 7 could have the key to victory.

"I think it is going to be the same thing we've been talking about since the All-Star break - It's play to our identity, have the right attitude, a relentless style of play," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "And also it's a Game 7 of the playoffs, let's go embrace this. This is what legends are made of, so go out there and play your game, fulfill it, and help us win a hockey game."

The Stars say they know what their "identity" is, and they know how to play it. They say it won't be easy finding that identity against the Blues, but that they have faced these challenges before and found a way to succeed.

"I think we need to get back to why we were here in the first place and playing our game," Cogliano said. "We've been a really hard-working, business-like team all playoffs and played a certain type of game that's tough to compete with on a nightly basis, and I think (Sunday) we got away from that. And when you get away from that playing a desperate team that is trying to not be eliminated, you end up losing.

Video: Cogliano confident heading into Game 7 against Blues

"So we need to get back to how we play the game and get back to our structure and get back to being the team that got us here in the first place."

A team that won a huge Game 5 on the road in Nashville with that series tied 2-2.

"I think going into St. Louis, we're a confident bunch … just like we were going into Nashville," Montgomery said.

And if anyone needs any more numbers or history to cloud their heads, remember that in 2016, a series between the Stars and Blues was tied 3-3 with Game 7 at American Airlines Center. The Blues won 6-1.

Road teams went 5-2 in that series, if you were keeping track.

For complete postseason coverage, visit Stars Playoff Central.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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