The Dallas Stars got off to a nice start in the first game of the series, with a close win over the St. Louis Blues. It shouldn’t have been close, the Stars were the far better team. Dallas had the pressure on Brian Elliott all night long, but he had answer for them. If it weren’t for Elliot it would have been an easy win for the Stars. Elliott was real close to stealing one in Game 1. That would have made for a hard blow to the Stars, who were the better team. When the Blues tied the game up at 1 in the 3rd period, there was a sense that they were going to commit absolute robbery and get out with a win. The Stars squashed that idea as they came back quickly to go up 2-1 in the game. In any case, Elliott was the best player in the game but it wasn’t enough. The Blues can’t come out that flat again and rely on Elliott or this is going to make for a quick series. Instead of 5 goals for the Stars, they were held to just 2. But let’s give some credit to Kari Lehtonen, who made some big time saves as well.
The Stars bounced between Lehtonen and Niemi in the first-round. The Blackhawks did the same thing with Corey Crawford and Scott Darling last playoffs. It worked out for them, will we see the same with the Stars as they were going through a goaltending controversy. The difference being, though, is that the Hawks already proved they could play under pressure. This is a new environment in the playoffs for a lot of the guys on the Stars’ roster.
Nevertheless, the Stars have handled the expectations of what they placed on them after such a quality regular season. The Blues finally got out of the first-round after defeating the Blackhawks, but a loss in this round isn’t going to make the previous round feel too sweet. It’s fair to say they’ll still be dubbed chokers. The Stars are a very talented team, so the inclination that they’re chokers might be somewhat farfetched. This series is still up for grabs against two very good teams. Let’s see what’s in store for us in Game 2 action.
St. Louis Blues vs. Dallas Stars NHL Playoffs Pick
Elliott posted 40 saves in the previous game, yet he didn’t get the credit for a win. For the Blues tonight, they cannot allow him to face that much pressure again. However, they will need another standout performance from him. I don’t see Lehtonen holding up through this whole series, the Blues are going to get to him eventually. The edge is still given to Elliott in this series. He finished the regular season with a 2.07 GAA, 3rd in the NHL, and 0.93 save percentage, good for 1st. So, stealing games is nothing new to him. Conversely, Lehtonen had a league rank of 39th in goals against, a 2.76, while his 0.906 save percentage was 41st in the NHL. The Stars are holding their breath that he can hold up.
The Blues did accumulate 32 shots on net in the first game, but the quality of scoring chances were much better for the Stars. Elliott had to make a handful of dandy stops. The flow of the game certainly felt like the Stars were on ice and the Blues were stuck in mud. I don’t expect the Blues to go through the motions again tonight, and I don’t expect Lehtonen to play as efficiently. The old split philosophy in this series looks like a good one to follow. With that said, I like the Blues to tie the series back up tonight.
PICK: BLUES TO WIN -111