The Dallas Stars travel all the way up north to Ottawa to meet the Senators, as they continue their march towards the playoffs. The Stars are sitting comfortably with a record of 39-20-7 and will be looking at the postseason for the first time since 2008. Mike Modano was on the roster then. The Modano era has long been over in Dallas, and the Stars have replaced him with a plethora of talent. Modano in his prime, playing with this Stars roster, would make for a filthy combination. However, it has been well documented that young teams often burn out when we reach March and into April. They play so well over the majority of the season, but keeping it going can often be difficult. And then the playoffs arrive, a different season in its own right. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche from a couple years ago. They had a tremendous regular season, yet couldn’t even make it past the 1st round in the playoffs. I see the Stars winning their 1st round series, but I am not so confident in them going deep. I think there is a lot for them to learn, and more importantly, a lot of room for improvement on the defensive end.
The Stars last season had the offense. They were playing just as good as they have been this season. But the defense was nearly dead last in the NHL. They were getting disposed of pretty easily on that regard. They have improved drastically; however, they might need another added boost in the offseason to improve the defense. Acquiring Kris Russell from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline is certainly a start. Management knows, and we all know, that the Stars are not going to do anything without a defense in the playoffs.
You cannot depend on the offense to score 4 or 5 goals every night in the playoffs, the defense and goaltending needs to steal some games. It is unclear how the defense will play in the postseason, but if they play like they have been lately defensively, forget about it, the Stars will get bounced in the 1st round. If you want something to choke on, just look at how badly the Senators manhandled them with them met last time, a 7-4 win in favor of Ottawa. The Stars have gone 3-7 over their last ten games, they need to get this train back on the tracks. We’ll see if they can do it against the Senators on Sunday evening.
Dallas Stars vs. Ottawa Senators NHL Pick
I will say one thing about this second-half, the NHL is probably happy with the amount of goals being scored. The goal scoring has been up, going against a trend which typically features low scoring this time of the season. The NHL has been worried about scoring being down so much, but there has been plenty of offense the past few months. The Stars know offense, it’s their element. Dallas is 2nd in the NHL, averaging 3.20 goals per game this season. No problem there, but is the defense going to be effective when it matters most? They have allowed 3.90 goals in their last ten games and are now 21st in the NHL, going backwards instead of up.
The Leafs’ game last night notwithstanding, the Senators have had problems as well. They will not be playing the depleted Maple Leaf offense tonight, it will be the Stars. Prior to the Leafs game, the Senators allowed 17 goals in their previous four games, equating to a 4.25 goals against average. In their last ten games, the Sens have surrendered around 3 goals per game. The OVER has hit in three straight contests between the Stars and Sens. Further, the OVER has cashed 7-3 in their past ten matchups. I see a big offensive performance for the Stars today against the Sens, who appear to be going with Andrew Hammond in net. Hammond holds a 2.99 GAA this season. I have a lean on the Stars, with an official play on the OVER 5.5.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-110)