DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 13: Kent Huskins #6 of the St. Louis Blues skates the puck against Trevor Daley #6 of the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on October 13, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Dallas Stars are out of the playoffs with nothing left to play for, wheras there's still a small chance they can finish on top of the Western Conference. As terribly as they've played recently, do they really deserve it?
This is a rare position for a team to be in -- division champions, with a chance to snag the top spot in the conference, but still managing to play like crap. The Blues are on a four game losing streak (two of which were in shootouts, so two points out of eight there), during which they've been very nearly unrecognizable as the team that has caught the league off guard.
They've vacillated from "eh, we did a good job for most of this game" to games having a bad texture. From Dan O'Neill's outstanding recap of last night's horrible 4-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes:
The Blues have known for a while they are playoffs-bound. They wrapped up a division championship and are re-introducing injured players back into their lineup. They are more concerned about the means than the end right now, and blah, blah, blah.
And there you go. The team somewhere along the line has lost that oomph, and hasn't been able to get it back. It seems like the re-introduction of injured players managed to throw the chemistry for a loop. Factor in the fact that there seem to be an awful lot of passengers on the Blues Express, as St. Louis Game Time pointed out. Ken Hitchcock's statement of the team playing with "skill ahead of work" might be right, but you have to at least try to exhibit skill. The Blues had minimal trying last night, and minimal skill.
Both teams are mired in a four game losing streak. One of those'll end tonight -- God willing the Blues won't carry a five game losing streak into the playoffs. That's not how you want to start.