Audio from Kevin Shattenkirk
After a day off, and an optional skate on Wednesday, the Blues began to pick up the intensity at a full practice on Thursday as the puck drop in Dallas grew closer. Unlike the Chicago series, the Blues will begin the Conference Semi-Finals on the road.
“We won the first two against that Chicago, that was in their building,” said captain David Backes, unfazed by hostile environment that’s to come. “We just got to go there and have good performances. Regardless of the arena or what the match-up is.”
Winning on the road has not been a problem for the Note this year, actually finishing with a better record away from Scottrade, and going 2-1 inside the raucous United Center in game 1.
The Blues look relatively healthy heading into Dallas, with one notable exception as reported by KTRS Sports David Solomon this morning:
#stlblues lines at practice
No Upshall (yet)
— David Solomon (@solomonsside) April 28, 2016
Ken Hitchcock told reporters later that it was merely a maintenance day for Upshall.
The Blues will need their full complement of talent against a Dallas team that has one focus: scoring goals. The Stars 267 goals in the regular season was tops in the NHL this year by 15. After a slow start, they scored 9 goals in their last 2 games of the first round vs. Minnesota.
“They’re a team that has a lot of firepower,” explained defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “They’re geared more towards offense. Dallas is focused on getting pucks out of their zone, and going right back on the offensive zone.”
“They’re one-on-one skill is something that’s unmatched in this league,” says Shattenkirk.
The Blues have had their success against the Stars, though. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the 2001 first round, resulted in a Blues’ sweep. This year? The Blues won 4 times, albeit 3 of those wins were in OT. But it’s success that means little now as a wide open Western Conference means everyone still alive has to like their chances at a birth in the Conference Finals.