In one of the best series of the second round, Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues needed seven games to decide a winner. In a hard fought series that nobody wanted to see end. In the end, it was the St. Louis Blues defeating the Dallas Stars by a score of 2-1 to advance to the Western Conference Final. Pat Maroon scored the game winner and series clinching goal in double overtime of Game 7.
Blues Off to the Western Conference Final
Coming into the playoffs nobody thought St. Louis Blues would make it this far in the playoffs. During periods of the regular season the Blues were out of playoff contention. Not to mention, on January 3rd, the Blues were dead last in the Western Conference. Goes to show you, if a team makes the playoffs, anything can happen.
Both the Blues and Stars were evenly matched coming into the series and after seven games nothing much changed. One team is moving on while the other is going home. The fact that series required seven games goes to show there is parity in the league.
Ben Bishop and Jordan Binnington continued to put on a goaltending clinic. Throughout all seven games, both goalies gave their teams chances to win each and every game. Many thought Binnington would shows signs he was rookie. He remained calm and cool under pressure. Binnington matched Bishop’s every save. For most of Game 7, the Blues were dominating stretches of play. Binnington had to stay sharp in his crease.
On the other hand, Bishop was excellent for the Stars. Bishop was an x-factor coming into the playoffs against Nashville and remained that way heading into the series against St. Louis. The only way Dallas was moving on to the Western Conference Final was if Bishop played at his best. Despite taking a puck in the neck area in Game 6, Bishop was back for Game 7. Bishop played great for Dallas, gave his team every chance to win the series.
While the offense got all the attention, it was the defense of both teams that shining during this series. Except for Game 6, where the Blues won by a score of 4-1, the first five games, the final score was decided by one or two goals. Talk about a great defensive battle. On one hand Dallas had the trio of John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen, and Esa Lindell. While St. Louis countered with Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, and Jay Bouwmeester.
The duo of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester stifled Dallas’s top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov. The combination of Klingberg, Heiskanen, and Lindell held Ryan O’Relly and Vladimir Tarasenko in check. Tarasenko would score three times in the series, twice on the power play. Other than Game 1 and on the power play, Tarasenko could not find the back of the net.
The story of the series was the play of the second, third, and fourth lines. Players like Roope Hintz, Jason Dickinson, Jason Spezza, Jaden Schwartz, Pat Maroon, Tyler Bozak all were vital in their teams victories through the first six games. Maroon picked up his second game winner of the series. Maroon scored the game winner late in Game 3.
Let’s not forget about Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello played a pivotal role for the Stars. Zuccarello could slot anywhere in the lineup for Dallas. Mostly he was playing with Roope Hintz on the second line. Zuccarello added depth to the Stars lineup, something that was missing.
In the end the better team won the series. You have to wonder how much the Blues have left in the tank. Two grueling series already in the books. With potentially another one on the horizon. The Blues will await the winner of the San Jose-Colorado series.
Notes: This is the first postseason in NHL History where 3+ Games 7 needed overtime. The Blues continue to be road warriors in these playoffs. Through six games on the road, the Blues have a record of 5-1. The Stars surrendered only two goals on the penalty kill as Dallas went 35 for 37.