Are the Blues the new black? St. Louis took out the not-for-long-still-reigning Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. Chicago blues may be one of the most important influences on modern music, but the ’Hawks had nothing on the St. Louis Blues. That doesn’t mean its all downhill from here, though. Some mofos are always trying to ice skate uphill, and the Blues won’t have any choice but to when they face the number 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Dallas Stars, in the second round of the NHL playoffs.
This is the first time this very interesting hockey betting matchup will take place in 15 years, when St. Louis swept Dallas in whatever-year-was-15-years-ago’s playoffs. In addition to that, the Blues defeated the Stars four out of five times in this year’s regular season – in spite of which Dallas won the Central Division two points ahead of the Blues to secure the home-ice advantage. Incidentally, Blues’ coach and Ken Hitchcock and his Dallas counterpart Lindy Ruff clashed back in 1999 – the year we partied like in 1982 – when they managed Stars and Buffalo Sabres, respectively. Simply put, Ruff coaches the team that the coach he faces now coached when he faced that coach last.
Basically, St. Louis can beat the Starts if they play them the same way they played Chicago; that is, if they keep getting spread-out scoring from their deep forward groups, as well as the odd Tarasenko breakout. Rookie Robby Fabbri was a major part of St. Louis’ offense and he should keep up the good work. At their best, the Blues are like the Terminator on Ice (note to self: great idea for an ice show). They effectively shut down Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane; if they can shut down Benn and Seguin too, the Blues will live on.
As for the Dallas Stars, they have to emulate Chicago’s strengths while avoiding their weaknesses. The ’Hawks were at their best when they produced long stretches of offensive-zone time against the Blues, wearing down the St. Louis’ defensemen and forcing them to make poor decisions with the puck. Dallas can do the same, as demonstrated when they finished the regular season controlling 52.6% of the even-strength shot attempts, a total surpassed only by the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings. Additionally, the Stars are more rested than the Blues, having played six games in the first round, compared to the seven physically and emotionally taxing games St. Louis had to play. However, this could actually improve the Blues’ sports betting odds, as they are now forged in fire – or forged in ice, if you will.