Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News,
Jamie Benn seems to bring out the best in Blues captain David Backes.
It's time for Backes to reciprocate.
The Blues have taken control of the conference semifinal series with the Stars 2-1, and Backes has been at the forefront. He has scored the game-winning goal in both victories and set a physical tone that has resonated in this series, dishing out a game-high seven hits in the Game 2 victory and nine more in the Game 3 rout.
"He's stepped up to the plate," said Blues teammate Alex Pietrangelo of Backes. "He seems to be all over the ice. He's done that all year. But with the big stage right now, he's really stepping it up and playing a big role at both ends of the ice."
The big stage is what defines Benn. He's one of the best hockey players in the world, and it's time he match the performance of the St. Louis captain. I would be surprised if Benn is not the best player on the Stars in Game 4 Thursday night. In fact, I'd be surprised if the Stars captain is not the best player on the ice.
from Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News,
The Stars left Tyler Seguin, Patrick Eaves and their A-game back home in Dallas.
What the Stars brought to St. Louis for Game 3 of the conference semifinal was a goaltending tandem in tatters and a defense that has become defenseless. This one was a mismatch that didn’t favor the top-seeded team in the West.
The Blues outhit, outskated and outclassed the Stars Tuesday night, claiming a 6-1 victory and a 2-1 lead in the series.
Wow. Where to start.
The Stars couldn’t put the puck in the St. Louis net and couldn’t keep it out of their own net. They also couldn’t stay out of the penalty box and couldn’t budge David Backes from the front of their own net. It was a clinic for bad hockey, for losing hockey.
Watch the game highlights below...
David Backes with the OT power play goal after Antoine Roussel took an interference penalty at the offensive blue line.
Final score was 4-3.
added8:12pm, game highlights are below...
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Vladimir Tarasenko saw the most ice time of any Blues forward in Game 1, and it was the second-most of any forward on the ice behind Dallas’ Jamie Benn.
“What did he play?,” Hitchcock asked during his session with reporters on Saturday afternoon.
Told it was 21 minutes, 4 seconds, Hitchcock replied: “Oh did he? Quite a bit, eh? Can we maybe shut that story up now?”
Late in the Blues’ first-round series with Chicago, when the Blues dropped two in a row, Tarasenko’s ice time, or lack of it, became a common talking point. But his minutes in Game 1 were the most he’s played in a regulation game in this year’s playoffs. Still, he was kept quiet by Dallas’ defense, limiting him to three shots on goal.
“Well, obviously he’s one guy that we got the radar on, that we know when he’s out there we want to make sure we don’t give him much ice,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought for the most part we didn’t make any mistakes that allowed any big rush plays when he was out there, and we closed fast on him inside the zone. We went after him physically and he’s a tough guy to knock off his feet, but I thought we played him as hard as we could when it came to the physical front.”
from Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
If you struggled to recognize the Blues on Friday night, you’re not alone. Those may have been the same players who eliminated the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round, but they definitely weren’t the same team.
They were slower, a tad behind most of the night and completely missing in the first two periods against the Dallas Stars. By the time it was over, they were fortunate to have lost Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals by a mere 2-1 margin at American Airlines Center.
The Blues hardly resembled the team that beat the Blackhawks in a thrilling, seven-game classic in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
“They outplayed us,” captain David Backes said. “They deserved to win this one. We got to regroup and find our game and play for a full 60 the way we did in the first series and we’ll be just fine.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The top two seeds in the Central Division get started tonight in Dallas, as the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues square off at 8 p.m. in Game 1. Here’s what to watch for as each team tries to get the early edge:
The Blues advanced in large part because they shut down Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as they eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. It doesn’t get any easier for St. Louis this round, as Stars captain Jamie Benn has been red-hot this postseason. Only the New York Islanders' John Tavares has more points in this postseason than Benn's 10. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he’ll look for every opportunity to get Benn on the ice in a favorable matchup with the series starting at home.
“I’ve got options,” Ruff said Friday morning. “I can drop him on a different line, not tipping my hand. There’s different places I can play him … whether that means more offensive zone starts, less defensive zone starts, double shifting, not following a rotation, a lot of different things. It’s something we’ve been doing since day one.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will attempt to get forward Alexander Steen on the ice as often as possible against Benn’s line.
"You'll find that he's not as quiet and introverted as maybe he leads on. He's the leader in our room, he's one of the funniest guys in our room, he's involved in a lot of the stuff that goes on in our room...He's a big part of our room. He truly is a natural leader, the way he plays and the way he acts, we're lucky to have a guy like him, and you can see him grow into it even more. You go out and win the scoring title and then follow it up where he finished second this year. I think he has the inner belief that he is one of the best top five players in the game. Whether people talk about it or not, we know it and he knows it, and I think that confidence kind of rubs off on everybody."
-Jason Spezza of the Dallas Stars on Jamie Benn. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has many quotes from the Dallas players before tonight's game agains the St. Louis Blues.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
They got off to a bad start, Ken Hitchcock and Lindy Ruff, opposing coaches in the 1999 Stanley Cup final; two guys left to rationalize the chaotic ending to one of the Cup’s great trench wars.
Ruff, coaching Buffalo, was livid at the way his Sabres lost, at home, in triple overtime, on a goal by Brett Hull that, according to the rules of the day, ought not to have counted.
Hitchcock, proud of an aging Dallas team that, by the end, was running on fumes and grit, sore about being asked, essentially, to apologize for the circumstances of the Stars’ championship, fired back at Ruff’s allegation that Dallas’s win was tainted by league incompetence.
“Tell Lindy to f— off,” Hitchcock spat as he vacated the post-game podium.
Time, though, and a couple of Canadian Olympic team assignments as assistant coaches under Mike Babcock, threw the two of them together and grew a scab over the old cut.
But that deep a wound never entirely heals, and now — Ruff coaching Dallas, Hitchcock with St. Louis, on opposite benches for the West semifinal series that opens Friday night in the Big D...
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Tyler Seguin is injured. We sort of know what the injury is, but we're not really exactly sure. The Stars want it that way. Seguin suffered a partial cut of the Achilles tendon March 17, had surgery to stitch that up, and then rested 11 games. He returned to play in Game 2 against Minnesota, sustained a new injury, and has not skated since.
Maybe it's his calf, maybe it's still his Achilles. Asked Wednesday if he could help the fans out a little, Stars general manager Jim Nill clarified at least what Seguin isn't doing.
"He can't skate yet, I can say that," Nill said. "He's day to day, and once he gets on the ice, it's probably four to five days from there."
As you rush to your Don Cherry's Rock 'em Sock 'em calendar and do the math, you figure that means Seguin will miss the first two games of the series with the Blues. In your heart, you know it means he will probably miss more than that.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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