There was a lot of air that came out of the Dallas Stars in Game 3. They are only down by a game in this series, but the Blues hit the Stars with a big uppercut in a 6-1 blowout. The stage is set for the Blues to knock the Stars over on the mat tonight. Once AGAIN the Stars switched their goalies up mid-game. The Stars realize they have a serious problem on their hand, with both Lehtonen and Niemi coming up short.
Neither of them were better than the other in Game 3, as Lehtonen and Niemi both allowed 3 goals each. It was not a pretty scene. Lehtonen finished with a save percentage of 0.889 and Niemi was worse, posting a 0.75 save percentage. It was a predictable problem for the Stars heading into the playoffs. They escaped without it doing much harm in the first-round, but now it’s rearing its ugly head against the Blues, who are looking hell bent on going deep this season in the post-season.
The Stars are in desperate need of a win tonight, it goes without saying. The Blues are going to be difficult to come back from down 3-1 on. The Blackhawks nearly did it, but that was the battletested Blackhawks. Additionally, the Blues may have learned a thing or two after escaping the Hawks. The offense really needs to get going for the Stars. I’m afraid the defense and goaltending is not going to be able to win this series for them.
I am not sure who to expect in net tonight for the Stars. Now with Lehtonen and Niemi playing a game of musical chairs between the pipes and the team is unconfident in both, this series is getting dicey for the Stars. Again, though, the Blues are only up 2-1 here, the Stars can’t back into a corner and give up. Something has to go right for them tonight or it’s going to be a big hill to climb to comeback in the series. The Stars were able to dispatch the Minnesota Wild, but the Blues are a much more talented team and I think they’re finding that out now. I said whoever comes out of the Blackhawks and Blues series is going to go far. The Blues are appearing like that team with each passing game.
Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues NHL Playoffs Pick
The overtime loss in Game 2 was a big loss for the Stars. It may not have looked like it was so big at the time, because the series was knotted at 1-1 after that point. However, I thought that the Stars needed to take both at home to win this series. I assumed that there were going to several off games for the Stars’ defense in this series, and when they had the chance in a close game, they needed to capitalize. Instead of capitalizing they took two dumb penalties in overtime in that game. The second one led to a goal for the Blues, a series turner. The Stars didn’t look like they wanted to be there in Game 3, but better find some motivation pretty quickly. The Blues outshot the Stars 39 to 26 in the previous matchup.
What are the Stars’ going to do here with the goaltending? They are in a hard place and can’t really do much about it. If one line isn’t clicking, a coach can mix things up for the next game. With Lehtonen and Niemi, the philosophy is pull one when they are getting drilled in net. There is no confidence in them, and neither have been able to get into a rhythm with all of the changing. How do you think they feel about this? Not too good. The Stars have allowed 3.11 goals per game in the playoffs, which is 13th among all playoff teams, and last among teams that are left. The Anaheim Ducks, who are watching from home, are eleven spots better than the Stars. It’s really tough to take the Stars right now given their issue in net. The Blues should be able to put the Stars on the brink of elimination to bring this series to 3-1 after tonight.
PICK: BLUES TO WIN -140