Styles Clash in Blues-Stars Matchup
There will be a new Stanley Cup champion this year. The St Louis Blues saw to that when they battled past the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. Now the Blues must collect themselves and impose the same relentless style of play on the Dallas Stars as they open their second-round series in Dallas on Friday. That may be tough to do against the high-scoring, run-and-shoot Stars.
St. Louis was up 3-1 in the Chicago series, blew the lead, but bounced back with a strong and resilient effort to finally slay the Hawks. With their machine-like play, the Blues controlled the puck and took away the effectiveness of Chicago standouts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The Blues countered with 12 players scoring goals in the series, led by Vladimir Tarasenko's four. Brian Elliott was not outstanding in goal (2.70 goals against average). But when it counted in Game 7, Elliott came up with 31 saves on 33 shots on goal.
Dallas used its quick-strike style to overcome the Minnesota Wild in six games. Without Tyler Seguin for most of series, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza stepped up with four goals each as the Stars scored 21 goals, the most of any team in the playoffs. This season they averaged an NHL-best 3.23 goals per game. Seguin, suffering from an Achilles injury, should be in for most of this series.
"Still rehabbing. We don't expect him to skate in the next few days"-Coach Ruff on Tyler Seguin. WATCH:https://t.co/AD3VNiIqFn— #NHL17Benn (@DallasStars) April 26, 2016
Kari Lehtonen replaced Antti Niemi in goal and emerged with a 2.27 GAA. That goalkeeping and a Dallas defense that was 19th in the league may be the Stars' weakness.
St. Louis was 4-1 against the Stars this year, the last game a 5-4 Blues overtime win in mid March. But St. Louis's seven-game bloodletting against the Hawks may leave a huge hangover, so don't expect the Blues to start out quickly. Dallas may have the edge in Game 1. But the Blues to win the West has been in my portfolio for a month, and I'll stick with them in this series at -120 or better. Watch for Seguin's form when he returns, and watch to see how both teams' goaltending holds up. The over may be good after Game 1.
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