Dallas St. Louis could be a great name for a fictional character, or the name of Martin St. Louis’ next kid.
But unfortunately, it’s just the name of two teams meeting in the playoffs, as the Dallas Stars take on the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference second round series.
These were two of the top three teams with the most wins in the league this season. Wow. The numbers speak for themselves… this should be a heck of a series, and could easily be a conference final in the old NHL format.
In five meetings, the Blues came out on top four out of the five matches, but also won three one-goal games. While the Blues did have the Stars number this season, it’s not like they dominated them on the four victories. An interesting point of note: the one Stars win did come on the second night of a back-to-back against… well, the Blues. I wouldn’t read too heavy into this relatively small sample size, but the Blues were definitely doing something right against Dallas this year.
A two-goal third period comeback from the Stars in the most recent meeting forced overtime, as did a late tying goal in the Feb. 16 matchup. Expect a few long overtimes this series.
Dallas led the league with 167 5-on-5 goals, St. Louis was 18th with 139.
But St. Louis was second in the league with just 124 5-on-5 goals against… while Dallas was 24th in the league with 154 goals against at 5-on-5.
What about score-adjusted Fenwick, proven to be one of the best predictors of playoff success? Via puck-on.net, we’ve got Dallas at 52.5 and St. Louis, 52.4.
A hot offence with bad defence against a great defence with okay offence? Sounds like a fairly even matchup to me at even strength.
These are two elite power play units against each other. 0.6 percent of effectiveness separates them. We’re splitting hairs at this point.
Two top-ten penalty kills is another real close duel. 82.3 vs 85.1? Not a huge, but noticeable enough difference. For what it’s worth, Dallas does take less penalties, so the numbers nearly even out as they gave up just three more shorthanded goals over the 82 game season.
We’ve got Brian Elliot up against Kari Lehtonen as the likely starters. In Elliot’s 42 games, he led the league with a .930 save percentage. In 43 games, Lehtonen had a .906.
A mismatch? Maybe. In the playoffs, Elliot had a .929 in the first round over his seven games. Lehtonen had a .911. But if either goalie falters or plays a little better than usual… that could be all the difference.
In the backups, we’ve got cup-winner Antii Niemi, and Jake Allen. I’d expect it more likely for Lehtonen to get chased than Elliot, but Niemi’s .870 in two playoff games this postseason don’t inspire much hope, as do his .905 save percentage this regular season.
Man, that TBD time slot sounds like a real challenge.
It’s always nice to see new teams succeeding in the playoffs. While the Stars have won the cup once in 1999, the Blues have yet to taste. Even still, it’s been nearly 20 years since they’ve won the Cup, and I doubt too many fans would say it’s a bad thing if they could do it this year, I’m taking the Stars ending their season as I’m taking Blues in seven. It should be a close series, but they have a slight edge in most categories and home-ice advantage.