The St. Louis Blues are set to take on the Dallas Stars tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs’ second round. They’ll aim to best the Stars in their building to eliminate home ice, but they can only do so if their best players are indeed their best.
It’s hard to say anything about the Blues without mentioning No. 91 because he’s just that good. He had six points (4G, 2A) in St. Louis’ first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks and he seemed to be, unsurprisingly, the player no one could stop.
Tarasenko is undoubtedly the best offensive player on the team and his success and health throughout the playoffs is a key factor in how well the Blues will do.
St. Louis will look to the Russia native tonight, and in the remainder of the postseason, to score and lead on the ice and to give the Blues their best shot at advancing.
Veteran netminder Brian Elliott played well in the first round, winning four of seven to allow the Blues to eliminate the Hawks. He looked comfortable in net, despite the high intensity of the series, and the Blues will require similar results to beat the Stars.
Dallas is an offensive powerhouse to say the least. They scored the most goals in the regular season and their two best offensive players totaled nine and 10 points in the first six playoff games respectively.
Their lineup is intimidating for any goaltender even with Tyler Seguin out due to injury and it’s up to Elliott to find a way to be a calming factor for his team.
Brouwer was the hero in Game 7 for the Blues, scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period that allowed them to advance. His heroics are hopefully far from done, as he’s a big part of St. Louis’ second line of offense.
He only totaled two points (1G, 1A) in the first round, but he should be energized from a rather explosive goal to end the series. His physicality is yet another aspect of his game that will have to remain in order for the Blues to limit offensive chances for the Stars.
Pietrangelo had a successful first round for the Blues, scoring six points (1G, 5A) in the seven games. His offensive production is another key in supplementing the production of Tarasenko and that will need to continue for St. Louis to move on.
His defensive contributions will also be a key in determining the winner of this series and the Blues are a significantly more defensive-minded team than the Stars. Dallas can score a lot of goals, but can’t always defend as well as necessary, so it’s on the skaters to make smart plays on both sides of the ice.
Ultimately, the Blues can’t beat the Stars if their best players aren’t playing their game. It will be challenge to go up against a team that is as fast and as offensively productive as Dallas, but the more defensive-minded style of the Blues should be able to make it a tough series.
Making it out of the second round, especially in a head-to-head battle of the Central Division’s best, is difficult. But with two teams as talented as the Blues and the Stars, the team that makes it out of this round will have a great chance at winning it all.
Which player do you think will have the biggest impact on St. Louis’ series against Dallas? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Allison Scott is currently pursuing a journalism degree at the University of Missouri. She is passionate about the NHL and is a fan of both the St. Louis Blues and her hometown Dallas Stars. More articles by Allison can be found on Blackout Dallas where she covers the Stars. Follow Allison on twitter for more hockey and random tweets! @allisonnnscott