Elliott, Blues to seal the deal against Stars?
The Blues have found themselves in plenty of big-time situations this season. Tonight, however, marks the franchise’s most crucial moment since 2001.
That was the last time St. Louis advanced to the Western Conference finals. It can punch the same ticket by defeating top-seeded Dallas in Game 5 of the semifinal round. According to handicappers at online sports book Bovada.lv, Ken Hitchcock’s host club is a -165 favorite to take care of business beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The Stars enter Scottrade Center as +145 underdogs after failing to capitalize on a glorious weekend opportunity at the American Airlines Center. Lindy Ruff’s club got squashed, 4-1, accounting for the current 3-2 series deficit. News hasn’t improved on the injury front, either, with Tyler Seguin (lower body) failing to travel to the Gateway City and forward Patrick Eaves (leg) an iffy proposition to suit up this evening.
On the other side, Hitchcock’s deploying a fully healthy arsenal – and perhaps the hottest goaltender in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Brian Elliott leads all netminders in minutes (762:03) and saves (384) in 12 contests. He’s also showing no signs of fatigue, whereas Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are having trouble holding down the fort as a tandem.
Even more so than usual, the first goal means everything tonight. If the Note’s celebrated trio of Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Jori Lehtera or the David Backes-led second line launches that initial salvo, the Stars may not be able to recover. Despite the fact that the road team has won two straight and three of five in the series, St. Louis feels ready to knock off another heavyweight and keep a magical run going.
MONDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLUES -1.5