The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars will square off Sunday in their final game of the Western Conference round-robin tournament in Edmonton.
Both the Blues (0-2-0, zero points) and Stars (0-2-0, zero points) are looking to get playoff-ready after losing their first two games.
“We have to get into that mode for this last game before we head into the playoffs,” Stars forward Andrew Cogliano said. “We have some time, we’re going to stick together, we’re not going to point fingers and we’re not going to abandon each other. This is the time where you’ve got to rally together and be real about where we are and be real about getting better.”
The winner of Sunday’s game will earn the third seed in the Western Conference and face the eighth-seeded Calgary Flames in the first round.
Sunday’s loser will fall to the fourth seed and a begin a series matchup versus the seventh-seeded Vancouver Canucks.
The Blues posted a 4-0-1 record in the five regular-season meetings. The Stars posted a 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis on Feb. 8.
The Blues were outshot 38-17 during their sloppy 6-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
“We have to make sure we’re dialed in there, working together, and after that we have to be ready for Sunday,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. “Dallas is a good team, they always play us hard. So just make sure we play tight, play our style of hockey, and there’s no doubt we can do that.”
The Blues took a step back from their first game — a tightly contested 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche — in their loss to the Golden Knights.
“Listen, coming into this playoffs here, this round-robin, I’m not sure that our guys have really brought the intensity to the first two games,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “In the Colorado game there were spurts at times. But right now, these two games, the other teams have been more competitive and more hungry than we have. Our compete level has to come way up.”
Stars coach Rick Bowness expressed the same sentiment after his team’s two losses.
“The play-in series are very intense,” Bowness said. “They’re very, very physical. They’re in each other’s faces and it’s every shift. And that’s what we’re going to see when we enter the playoffs. We’re trying to prepare our players that this is coming. We have to prepare now. We can’t just flip a switch when the first game of the playoffs comes along and say ‘OK now we’re intense.’ “
The Stars finished their regular season with a 0-4-2 winless streak. They followed their lengthy hiatus with an exhibition loss to Nashville before dropping a 5-3 decision to the Golden Knights and 4-0 setback to the Avalanche.
“I don’t think we are where we need to be as of right now,” Cogliano said. “We have to realize that this is the playoffs and it’s tough to win. Colorado proved that. When you play a team like that, they’re a high-talented team, and for us to beat them we have to outwork them and check them and play a simple game, and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”
The Blues will play without forward Ivan Barbashev, who left the Edmonton bubble for the birth of his first child. Winger Vladimir Tarasenko is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
The Stars expect defenseman John Klingberg back for this game, but goaltender Ben Bishop is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
–Field Level Media