Stars Have Blues’ Number

The St. Louis Blues must groan when the Dallas Stars are next up on the schedule.  Last season, the Blues were 0-3-1 against the Stars.  In the 2011-12 preseason, the Blues lost to the Stars twice.  Thursday night, the Blues’ winless streak versus Dallas continued with a 3-2 loss at American Airlines Arena.

The Blues came out flat in the first period, allowing the Stars to get the early jump with a short-handed goal from Loui Eriksson.  Adam Burish and Brenden Morrow added two more in the second before the Blues responded.  Matt D’Agostini got the Blues on the board with his first of the season in the second, and Chris Stewart added a second goal in the third, but ultimately, the Blues could not muster enough momentum to overcome the Stars’ early goals and equalize the game.

Despite a disappointing loss for St. Louis, several players shined.  Andy McDonald has started the season firing on all cylinders; arguably, he looks the best he ever has in a Blues uniform.  He moves his feet, skates explosively, and makes things happen.  Watching McDonald zoom around the ice shows why he epitomizes the “playmaker” label.  McDonald’s other linemates, David Backes and Jamie Langenbrunner, are also playing well.  Overall, the Backes/McDonald/Langenbrunner line is finding incredible chemistry.  Originally, Langenbrunner did not envision himself playing on a top line in St. Louis; however, since the season started, Langenbrunner has consistently been placed in a top six role.  Langenbrunner has refuted criticism of his placement with consistent play, and he is not afraid to stand up for teammates.  Backes and Langenbrunner form a feisty tandem that is unpleasant for opposing teams to deal with.

Another welcome surprise for the Blues:  Alex Steen and Jason Arnott.  Their chemistry continues to develop, and Steen is one of the few Blues who is not afraid to shoot from anywhere in the offensive zone.  Steen’s wicked wrister led to several post hits Thursday night.  If Steen stays healthy and continues to gel with veteran Arnott and the speedster D’Agostini, Steen could top last year’s numbers and post another career season.

Despite decent individual performances from forwards, the Blues will have to push harder on special teams to generate wins.  The Blues’ power play was 0-for-5 Thursday night.  When handed the man advantage, the Blues must employ a new strategy—continuously cycling the puck along the half-boards or sending it to Pietrangelo every play is not working.  With good size in Backes and Stewart, the Blues must screen the goalie and pick up the dirty goals off rebounds.

Jaroslav Halak continues to be an enigma for the Blues.  Halak is failing to live up to the hype that preceded his trade to St. Louis.  Thursday night, all three Dallas goals passed between or underneath Halak’s legs—not sealing the five-hole has been detrimental to Halak’s success.  Both the forward and defensive corps are playing well for the Blues, but Halak’s average goaltending is killing the squad’s chances.

Carlo Colaiacovo did not travel with the team for their current road trip.  He has been placed on IR and is suffering from concussion symptoms sustained against Nashville October 8.  New Blue Taylor Chorney also did not play.  He is currently filling the seventh defensive spot on the team.

The Blues travel to the HP Pavilion Saturday night to take on the San Jose Sharks.  Last season, the Blues were 1-3 against the Sharks.

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