Can Stars take a stand against Blues tonight?
Dallas isn’t meeting its usual standard of excellence on the power play. As a result, the Western Conference’s top seed could be living on the edge by night’s end.
The Stars and Blues drop the puck at 8 p.m. ET in Game 4 of their second-round matchup. Handicappers at online sports book Bovada.lv indeed position St. Louis as a -150 favorite to snag that all-important 3-1 series lead. On the other hand, Lindy Ruff’s club enters Scottrade Center as a +130 underdog.
With 265 goals during the regular season, offense was never an issue for Dallas. That changed dramatically on Tuesday in the Gateway City. The Note pounded the visiting squad, 6-1, as anyone and everyone got in on the fun. Captain David Backes and Alex Steen potted two goals apiece, while Vladimir Tarasenko busted out of a mini-funk with a tally and two helpers.
Not only did the Stars fail to keep the opposition in front of them, they mustered precious little pressure of their own. Brian Elliott made 25 relatively innocuous saves. Worse yet, Dallas squandered valuable opportunities with the man-advantage. One of the finest special-teams units in the entire league is now 0 for 11 on the power play in the series.
Maybe Patrick Eaves (lower body) provides a boost in his likely return to the lineup, but the Stars need four lines’ worth of production to prevent this matchup from careening completely out of control. On the flip side, Ken Hitchcock merely wants his personnel to execute in the same aggressive fashion. Barring an extraordinary effort from Kari Lehtonen in net, not to mention a surge in the area of puck possession, we foresee the Central Division champs boarding that flight back to the Lone Star State in a forlorn state.
THURSDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLUES -1.5