NHL Hockey Betting: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues

NHL Hockey Betting:  Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues&h=235&w=320&zc=1

Has the momentum in this series turn strongly in the direction of the St. Louis Blues? It sure looks like it. After a pair of closely contested games in Dallas which the Blues and Stars split St. Louis came home for Game Three and turned in a dominating performance. The Blues controlled every phase of the game in Game Three and blasted St. Louis 6-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their best of seven Western Conference semifinal series.

Game Four now becomes crucial for Dallas. A win in Game Four and the series is all tied up once again with the Stars having two of the final three games on home ice. A loss in Game Four and the Stars are in a 3-1 hole and will need to win three straight games to stave off elimination and advance to the Conference Finals. Historically, a team down 2-1 playing Game Four on the road is a 54% winner. That’s not much of a historical edge and even less so when you look at the ‘X’s and O’s’. The Stars biggest problem has manifest itself over the past two games but is something that hockey pundits have warned about all year: erratic goaltending. More specifically, the problem is head coach Lindy Ruff’s response to the erratic goaltending–he can’t decide who he wants in net.

Kari Lehtonen had been the Stars top goaltender for the last weeks of the regular season into the playoffs. He made it through the Stars first two playoff games without incident but got ‘the hook’ after the Minnesota Wild’s improbable scoring outburst in Game Three of their first round series. Annti Niemi came in and started the next two games. He didn’t get ‘the hook’ but he did get replaced by Lehtonen for Game Six after a shaky Game Five performance. Lehtonen played the first game of the current series and played well in a 2-1 Dallas win. But he started poorly in Game Two and got ‘the hook’, replaced by Niemi again. Neimi lasted less than one full game before he got ‘the hook’ early in Game Three. No official word yet for Game Four but the early indication is that Lehtonen will start.

This is not how you manage your goaltenders. You need a definite #1 heading into the playoffs like the Blues’ have in Brian Elliott. Elliott has had a few shaky moments but the team has stuck with him. That gives a goaltender confidence and a confident goaltender is a better goaltender. This difference could be why the Stars eventually lose this series.


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