The St. Louis Blues took another Round 2 series lead over the Dallas Stars. The teams return to St. Louis, where the Scottrade Center will be rocking once again. The Blues have had two of their three wins be fairly convincing, outscoring their opponent 10-2 in those games. So if it isn’t the scoring touch they need, what is it?
Put it on the Net
St. Louis has found more balanced scoring in the second round. Rookie Robby Fabbri has continued to shine; while Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer continue their climb up the points leaders rankings. To keep that going, they need to shoot the puck. It’s no secret that Dallas has had some goaltending issues in the playoffs, so when it comes to shots, the more the merrier. Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi aren’t bad goalies, but putting more and more pressure on the duo could result in some timely and unpredictable goals.
The Blues have been outshot in four of the five games this series. At times, they have looked to make that “perfect play.” Dallas has left gaps in their defensive game and through the neutral zone, giving St. Louis the chance to get some timely breakaways and odd-man rushes. If those gaps close, the Blues will need to adjust their game on Monday and take things to the outside.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 6, 2016
Every possession starts with a faceoff. The Blues have some of the best faceoff specialists in the league in Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera. Unfortunately for them, they’ve been countered heavily by Cody Eakin and Radek Faksa. Even in a 4-1 loss in Game 5, Eakin and Faksa averaged 77% on 26 draws, incredible numbers. Most of the Blues’ faceoff totals have continued to hover around 40-50% but only for the two aforementioned players. Possession will be key in Game 6, and draws are how it all begins.
Dallas has had some major pressure-cooker possessions in the St. Louis zone, many of them controlled by their blue line. The Blues will need to keep a better eye on players like Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg, forcing their opponent to play down low, an area of the ice the Blues excel in.
A Helping Hand
Brian Elliott has been lights out. From Game 1 versus the Chicago Blackhawks and through Game 5 in Rnd. 2.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 8, 2016
It may seem like a cliche, and it may sound like a no-brainer, but Elliott needs to continue to be the Blues’ best player. The Stars had the regular season’s top scoring offense, and there is no reason to discount that now. St. Louis’ defensive play has also returned to form in this series, giving Elliott more room to see incoming shots, and face less of them. Brad Shaw and the defensive side of the bench need to continue this trend, not just to benefit them in Game 6 but also to give Elliott less and less work as the postseason goes on.