The St. Louis Blues have faced the Dallas Stars, and their predecessors the Minnesota North Stars, more than any other NHL team in the playoffs.
Adding to the familiarity is the fact that Blues coach Ken Hitchcock coached the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup title. His coaching opponent that season in the finals? None other than current Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
The NHL released the second round playoff schedule Tuesday and Game 1 is set for 7 p.m. Friday in Dallas, with Game 2, also in Dallas, set for 2 p.m.
The series returns to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday with both games set for 7 p.m. start times. That’s better than the rash of 8:30 p.m. starts in the opening-round playoff victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Dallas finished with 109 points to win the Central Division title and home-ice advantage in the playoffs, just ahead of the second-place Blues with 107 points. The Blues won four of five games against the Stars during the regular season, with current backup goalie Jake Allen in net for three victories, but three Blues wins were in overtime.
Dallas has a sniper in Jamie Benn, the top playoff scorer in the league so far with four goals and 10 points in six games. Jason Spezza is right behind with four goals and nine points while star forward Tyler Seguin has been dealing with a lower-body injury suffered in Game 2 of Dallas’ first-round win over Minnesota.
Seguin, the Stars’ second-leading scorer behind Benn this season with 33 goals and 73 points, also suffered a right Achilles tendon injury March 17.
The Blues and Stars entered the league in 1967 as expansion teams and were in the same conference early on, so that helped create more matchups. The teams have met 12 times in the playoffs , most recently in 2001 when the Blues swept the Hitchcock-coached Stars in four games in the 2001 Western Conference semifinals.
They have split their previous six playoff series.
Blues playoff tickets go on sale to the general public at 2 p.m. Thursday on the Blues’ website stlouisblues.com.
Blues-Hawks set new TV ratings record
The 19.6 television rating for the Blues-Blackhawks Game 7 on Monday broke Fox Sports Midwest’s all-time ratings record and was the most watched game in the network’s history — including St. Louis Cardinals games.
At its peak, the Blues-’Hawks game had a 25.3 rating and was being viewed by 308,000 households in the region.
The only television program of any kind to generate higher ratings in St. Louis in recent memory was the 2016 Super Bowl.
Fox Sports Midwest will present a rebroadcast of Game 7 at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The game also drew the highest TV ratings ever (19.1) for the Blackhawks’ flagship network in Chicago, CSN Chicago.
Before Monday, the previous ratings leader for Fox Sports Midwest was the Cardinals win over Houston on Sept. 28, 2011 when the Cards’ clinched a playoff spot. That game had a rating of 18.0.
The Blues’ Game 7 win over the Blackhawks also was the highest-rated first-round playoff game in NBCSN history, peaking at 2 million viewers for the final 15 minutes of action. The game also produced 11.6 million minutes of streaming on NBC Sports Live Extra, earning a fourth-place spot on all-time NHL games.
Need more proof of the Blues-Blackhawks series popularity?
Game 6 last Saturday in Chicago was NBC’s most-watched opening-round game in the past four seasons.