The Dallas Stars are set to face off against the St. Louis Blues in a series that is shaping up to be a tale of two very different teams. Starting in the offensive zone, the Stars are currently looking at one person, and that is captain Jamie Benn. Benn had the most points (10), goals (4), and assists (6) in the first round victory against the Minnesota Wild. On the other hand, the Blues have had more diverse offensive production, with Jaden Schwartz leading the team in points (7), Vladimir Tarasenko leading them in goals (4), while Alex Pietrangelo has the most assists (5). While Benn may lead the Stars in most major statistical categories, Dallas is looking for even more support from the likes of Patrick Sharp and Jason Spezza, who both had a productive first round against Minnesota. Superstar center Tyler Sequin is still on the mend with an injury to his Achilles tendon, and it’s unknown when he will be back in the lineup. I give the advantage to the Dallas Stars on the offensive side of the ice. They have proven that they can score at will, and that will be their greatest asset going into this series.
On the flip side of that coin is the defense. The Blues are staked by an impressive defensive corps led by Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jay Bouwmeester, who all have more then 22 minutes of average time on the ice. Rookie Colton Parayko was just behind at a shade under 21 minutes a game, and he’s coming off a very good performance against Chicago in the first round. Comparatively, the Stars’ John Klingberg leads the team in that category with 24 minutes, but there is a fall off with the rest of their defense. Alex Goligoski (21), and Johnny Oduya (19) top out with average time on the ice. St. Louis’ group of crafty veterans could pose the biggest obstacle for the Dallas offense. Where the Stars are used to finding the back of the net often, the Blues’ defense is certainly capable of preventing that from happening.
Finally we have the keepers of the crease. All season, the Stars have used the 1A, 1B tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Annti Niemi. Dallas leaned more on Niemi during the regular season, and he knows the feeling of winning the Stanley Cup, having earned a championship ring in Chicago in 2010. Lehtonen was the hot hand early on in the first round, but had what could’ve been a monumental collapse in the third period of Game 6 against the Wild giving up four goals in that 20-minute span, yet still being able to hang on for the victory. This is a headache that St. Louis does not have to worry about, as they have given the nod to Brian Elliott who has had a respectable 2.40 goals against average and a .929 save percentage so far in the playoffs. Lehtonen is in the ball park with a 2.27 GAA and .911 SP, while Niemi has struggled with 3.36 GAA and .870 SP. Unless one of the Stars goaltenders steps up to the plate in a big way, Elliott could steal a game or two for the Blues, which very well may be the difference between advancing to the Western Conference Finals or working on your golf game in the offseason. This series certainly has the opportunity to be the most exciting one of Round 2, as you can expect a fast-paced game on both ends of the ice.
Prediction: Dallas Stars in 7 Follow Stephen on twitter
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