St. Louis Blues vs. Dallas Stars Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 16th 2023

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When Drew Bannister took the helm of the St. Louis Blues as their interim coach on Tuesday, his immediate goal was clear.

“This is a good hockey team, but right now, we have to get it going in the right direction,” Bannister said. “The competitive side of our hockey team, the standard has to be raised here.”

The Blues started that process by defeating the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Thursday to snap a four-game losing streak. They will try to continue that upturn Saturday when they host the Dallas Stars.

Bannister replaced Craig Berube, who was fired after the team’s 6-4 home loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Bannister made some adjustments to the lineup, including reuniting the top line of Jordan Kyrou and Pavel Buchnevich flanking Robert Thomas.

After scoring 37 goals and earning 36 assists last season, Kyrou has just five goals and 13 assists in 29 games this season.

“With a player like Jordan Kyrou, he’s an outstanding player,” Bannister said. “I’ve seen it. I coached against him in the Ontario Hockey League. I watched him in the American League dominate. I’ve seen what he did here last year. He’s going through a tough spell, there’s no question about it. But I’m here to help him, and I believe in him.”

Nikita Alexandrov and Sammy Blais were the healthy forward scratches in Bannister’s debut. Mackenzie MacEachern jumped on the fourth line in the first game since his AHL recall.

The Stars come to town after defeating the Ottawa Senators 5-4 on Friday night for their third victory in four games. Dallas won its previous game against the Blues this season, a season-opening 2-1 victory in a shootout on Oct. 12 in Dallas.

Due to the coaching change in St. Louis, Dallas coach Peter DeBoer figures his team will have its hands full with the Blues on the second half of back-to-back games.

“I think from an opponent perspective, you usually get a little bit of a bump when that happens,” DeBoer said. “We’re going into St. Louis. It’ll be their second game under a new coach, so we have to be prepared for that. They’re going to be playing at a high level. We’re going to be right in the middle of that that bump they’re going to get.

“The question is, how long does that bump last? It’s different for every team.”

DeBoer empathized with Berube after his dismissal.

“You think about the job he did there. He just won a (Stanley) Cup. Feels like really recently. It was really recently,” DeBoer said. The Blue won the title in 2019.

“We all go through it. What you guys don’t see, is there is a real fraternity to the coaches in this league. There’s a lot of support when something like that happens. I know we all reached out to him. I’m sure he heard from everybody in the league. I’ve been on that end of it,” DeBoer said.

The Stars lost top goaltender Jake Oettinger to a lower-body injury on Friday against the Senators after just over eight minutes. He needed help leaving the ice, and DeBoer said after the game that Oettinger won’t make the trip to St. Louis.

Scott Wedgewood relieved Oettinger on Friday and he may be forced to start on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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