Blues Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars -12/14/21

The St. Louis Blues are heading south to the Texas looking to avenge a 4-1 loss against their Central Division opponents, the Dallas Stars. In their last matchup, Stars forward Roope Hintz scored not one but two shorthanded goals to seal their victory. In Tuesday’s matchup, the Blues face a lineup that has lost three games in a row and has scored only one goal in their last 120 minutes.

Here’s a look at the storylines heading into the first game of a home-and-home set.

2 Storylines: Blues (13-8-4)

Blues Roster Shuffle

The Blues made five adjustments to their roster on Monday afternoon as veteran forward David Perron was retroactively placed on long-term injured reserve as of Nov. 27. That means he will miss at least another three games and will not be eligible to play until Dec. 21, when the Blues take on the Ottawa Senators. The club also placed forwards Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn on the injured reserve list.

Next, general manager Doug Armstrong activated veterans Tyler Bozak and Justin Faulk off of the COVID-19 protocol list and recalled Alexei Toropchenko from their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. Toropchenko has five goals and nine points through 22 games this season.

Related: 3 Blues Who Need to Step Up Their Game

The Blues will miss Perron and Schenn’s veteran leadership as they continue to push through the plethora of hurdles in front of them this season. Their offensive presence, along with Thomas’, will be missed as the three have combined for 50 points. If there is a silver lining here, it’s that the organization has proven it has valuable depth that can be called upon at any time.

Happy Birthday, Ivan Barbashev

The Russian forward turns 26 on Tuesday and is in the middle of a breakout season. Ranked fifth on the roster with 19 points in 28 games, he is one of four Blues players to have played all 28 games this season. Barbashev was drafted 33rd overall by the organization in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and has never surpassed 26 points in a season.

Ivan Barbashev St. Louis Blues
Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Head coach Craig Berube and his staff have entrusted Barbashev with additional responsibilities this season, and he is rewarding them for it. He has consistently seen top-six, second power-play unit deployment, and his average ice time has increased by nearly three minutes per game. Barbashev is on pace for 29 goals and 56 points this season.

2 Storylines: Stars (13-10-2)

Joe Pavelski Leading the Way

Who says point totals decrease with age? Joe Pavelski (37) leads the Stars in 21 points (9-12-21) and powerplay goals (4) this season and is showing no signs of slowing down. He ranks fourth in average ice time among Dallas forwards at 17:02 per game. In his third season with the organization, he is on pace for 68 points, his highest total since the 2016-17 season with the San Jose Sharks. 

Khudobin on Waivers

Monday morning, the Stars placed veteran netminder, Anton Khudobin on waivers. Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger have secured their place as the leading goaltenders for the organization, the Stars decided it was time to send Khudobin to their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars for more ice time (should he clear waivers).

Anton Khudobin Dallas Stars
Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 35-year-old goaltender was a key cog in the Stars’ 2019 run to the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This season, Khudobin has struggled with a 3-3-1 record, a .873 save percentage and 3.73 goals-against average. He is in the middle of a three-year, $10 million contract extension with a cap hit of $3.33 million, and $3.75 million in salary owed this season and next.

Players to Watch

St. Louis: Forward Vladimir Tarasenko will take on the Stars tonight for the 30th time in his career. To date, he has scored 16 goals and 24 points in 29 games. Tarasenko did not manage a point in their first meeting of the season but put five shots on net. However, the odds are in his favor as he has scored a goal in 57% of their games.

Dallas: Forward Jason Robertson did not score a goal or manage an assist in the last matchup. However, the 22-year-old sophomore has eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games this season. Robertson is a threat on every shift.

Projected Line Combinations

St. Louis Blues

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Brandon SaadRyan O’ReillyLogan Brown
Pavel BuchnevichIvan BarbashevVladimir Tarasenko
Nathan WalkerDakota JoshuaOskar Sundqvist
Alexi ToropchenkoTyler BozakMatthew Peca
Left DefenseRight Defense
Niko MikkolaColton Parayko
Marco ScandellaTorey Krug
Justin FaulkRobert Bortuzzo
Starting Goalie
Charlie Lindgren

Dallas Stars

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Jason RobertsonJamie BennJoe Pavelski
Tanner KeroTyler SeguinDenis Gurianov
Michael RafflRadek FaksaLuke Glendening
Joel KivirantaJacob PetersonAlexander Radulov
Left DefenseRight Defense
Esa LindellJohn Klingberg
Ryan SuterMiro Heiskanen
Andrej SekeraJani Hakanpaa
Starting Goalie
Jake Oettinger

Blues’ Next Game: Friday, Dec. 17, versus Dallas Stars (7 PM CST)

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