St. Louis Blues Game Preview: Team Looks to Pick Up Another Win After Clinching Playoff Spot


After snapping a two-game losing streak and finally clinching a spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday night against the Calgary Flames, the St. Louis Blues will look to maintain their same level of energy and competitiveness on Friday as they face the Dallas Stars.

The situation presents a bit of deja vu for the Blues, who went into Dallas on April 11 of last year and lost 3-0, struggling to create offense as they were without David Backes, Brenden Morrow, T.J. Oshie, Derek Roy, Vladimir Sobotka, and Vladimir Tarasenko. This year, the Blues will go into Dallas again with the season about to wrap up, and once again they’re without Tarasenko and Alexander Steen, their two top scorers. However, after showing some signs of offensive life while scoring four goals on Thursday, the Blues will attempt to create sufficient scoring opportunities when they face Dallas on Friday.

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In an interesting trend, the Blues have fared much better in Dallas than they have while facing the Stars in St. Louis this season. They’ve won both games that the two teams have played at the American Airlines Center, while two of the Blues’ worst games this season have been the two games in which they’ve played the Stars at Scottrade Center, as they lost 4-3 and 4-1 in those two matchups. With that said, Tarasenko has scored four of the seven goals that the Blues have collected while playing in Dallas this season, so they’ll have to find some alternative sources of offense on Friday.

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Brian Elliott will start in goal for the Blues on Friday, getting the second end of the back-to-back after Jake Allen delivered an impressive effort, stopping 17 of 18 shots, on Thursday against Calgary. Beyond that, not much about the lineup is known. It’s possible that defenseman Carl Gunnarsson could get back into the lineup after sitting out Thursday’s game as a healthy scratch, but with the impact that his replacement, Robert Bortuzzo, had during that game, it’s no guarantee that Gunnarsson will get right back in.

Since the trade deadline, coach Ken Hitchcock has exercised heavy rotation with the lineup during back-to-back sets, often getting the whole roster involved during the course of the 48-hour period. The results haven’t always been great, though, so Hitchcock may prefer to just go with what’s working now that the Blues have built up some momentum again. That’s particularly true considering that injured forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen are unlikely to return on Friday, meaning that “energy guy” Chris Porter will be the team’s only extra forward. Gunnarsson and Chris Butler are available as extra defensemen, so it should be interesting to see how the blueline personnel looks against the Stars.

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