By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have done it before already, so why change anything as far as a road routine at home?
The Blues have treating home games like they've been on the road and did so again for Game 7 of the Western Conference second round today against the Dallas Stars (7 p.m.; NBCSN, KYKY 98.1-FM).
The Blues had a brief, but heavily-populated optional skate Tuesday morning, boarded an 11:10 a.m. bus and were whisked away to a hotel to go through their road gameday routine while at home.
It makes sense, right? The Blues are 5-1 in the playoffs on the road, 2-4 on home ice, so whatever gives them the mental edge, go for it.
"It’s been like that all playoffs, nothing really changes," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "We’ve been doing hotels and stuff like that at home. Nothing changes, it’s another day and home, you’ve got to prepare and we’ll be ready to go tonight."
The Blues forced a Game 7 with an impressive 4-1 win at Dallas in Game 6 on Sunday. They are expected to keep the same lineup after running a quick, heavily-populated morning skate (minus Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester) and were off to the hotel.
"I think that helps a little bit," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "It comes down to, when the puck drops, doing the right things. As a player, for myself, every game is an opportunity to win, whether we're at home or on the road. We want to get off to that start and create that mindset. I know we struggled at home a bit when we started, but I think knowing that it's one game that we're ready to make that push and get to it right away.
"... I think it's nice being around the guys more. Bus, hotel, eating together, I think it keeps us together, keeps us closer. ... I’ve only been in one Game 7 before and it was an OT loss (with Colorado in 2014). I just remember the excitement. There’s nothing like the preparation for it, where it comes down to this. It’s one game where we have to prove we’re better than them. Being at home is something we’ll feed off, too. There’s a lot of energy and we’re excited for it."
There is plenty of experience in Game 7's for the Blues, and then there are guys like Sammy Blais, Oskar Sundqvist and Robert Thomas who will be making their winner-take-all debuts.
For Blais, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 6 and was the 12th Blue in history to score in his playoff debut, he said there is a god bag of feelings.
"I woke up before my alarm and I couldn’t fall back asleep," Blais said. "I was really excited and kind of nervous, but it’s a good nervous. I don’t know if you say it like that, but I’m really looking forward to it."
Sundqvist, who is the lone Blues skater with a Stanley Cup ring, likes the way they've approached things and is excited himself.
"Mostly excited; I usually don't get nervous," Sundqvist said. "It's going to be fun obviously. We just have to go out there and play our game. Just enjoy the moment. It's going to be a lot of fun tonight.
"We need to treat this thing like on the road, play the same way and not be too fancy just because we're at home."
Thomas was playing junior hockey last season, and now he's playing
"It’s my first Game 7 at the pro level, so I’m pretty excited," Thomas said. "Everything is on the line tonight, so it should be a lot of fun.
"I think for us it’s the same as every other game. We’ve been playing desperate hockey pretty much the whole second half of the year, so I think for us it’s just sticking with what works and being calm and composed."
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The Blues aren't expected to make any lineup changes for tonight. Why change what worked in Game 6, right?
Some Game 7 trends to keep close eye on:
* The team that scores first is 129-46 (.737) in the 175 all-time Game 7's in the playoffs. However, the team to allow the first goal won two of three Game 7's in the first round (San Jose and Carolina each trailed 1-0 before winning; Boston won after scoring first).
* Home teams are 102-73 (.583) in the 175 all-time Game 7's in the playoffs, including 2-1 this postseason (Sharks and Bruins won at home; Hurricanes won on the road).
* Forty-three Game 7's in the playoffs have required overtime (24.6 percent), including two of three in the first round (San Jose vs. Vegas and Carolina vs. Washington). Home teams are 22-21, including 1-1 this postseason (San Jose won in OT at home, Carolina won in OT on the road).
For the Blues, they're 8-8 in all-time Game 7's, including 4-2 at home. They won their most recent one, 3-2 in 2016 against Chicago.
Stars goalie Ben Bishop, who got stung by a Colton Parayko slap shot on his left collarbone in the third period of Game 6 on Sunday, will start tonight. Also, center Roope Hintz, who blocked multiple shots off his left skate Sunday and was visibly limping, did not take part in the morning skate but coach Jim Montgomery said he will play. How effective he'll be is anybody's guess.
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko
Sammy Blais-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron
Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas
Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist-Alexander Steen
Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn-Carl Gunnarsson
Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Robby Fabbri, Robert Bortuzzo, Michael Del Zotto, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn and Ville Husso. The Blues report no injuries.
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The Stars' projected lineup:
Jason Dickinson-Tyler Seguin-Mats Zuccarello
Jamie Benn-Roope Hintz-Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano-Radek Faksa-Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark-Justin Dowling-Jason Spezza
Esa Lindell-John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen-Roman Polak
Taylor Fedun-Ben Lovejoy
Ben Bishop will start in goal; Anton Khudobin will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Tyler Pitlick , Gavin Bayreuther, Dillon Heatherington, Landon Bow. Stephen Johns (upper body), Marc Methot (lower body), Martin Hanzal (back), Jamie Oleksiak (lower body) and Joel Hanley (upper body) are out.