The Dallas Stars are the right side as a underdog against the Blues in this series, but this betting preview will explain why We'll back them as NHL Picks on the series.
You would think that there would be a huge advantage for the Dallas Stars after dismantling the Minnesota Wild in six games over the St.Louis Blues who may need some time to recover from a grueling seven game series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Its really a matter of if you think the Stars depth will once again overcome their deficiencies in goal. Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi have both been inconsistent with their numbers being more of a reflection of the Stars offensive firepower than their ability to have a 35 save night to win a hockey game. Niemi has had only eight starts in almost two months and gave up five goals twice in that period including in game five against Minnesota. Lehtonen was 3-1 in the playoffs but has given up a total of eight goals in his last two games.
With Tyler Seguin out of the line-up you might figure that the Stars would be depleted and have more of a difficult time overcoming their goaltending but their depth was evident in round one. Both Patricks, Sharp and Eaves, have especially stepped up but it's Eaves that is the surprise. After tallying only 17 points all season he now has five in the playoffs. Jamie Benn had a quiet 10 point series but ceratinly was the teams consistent leader. Benn has produced at least one point in all six of the first round games and can tie Dino Ciccarelli for the most consecutive points scored in the playoffs by a Star or a North Star.
Speaking of quiet the Stars made a move last month that barely got any notice when they recalled Stephen Johns from the American Hockey League. The call up was supposed to be in case of an emergency and now he's a big part of their defensive groupings. Not only has he found a way into their line-up but he's on the second pairing with Johnny Oduya. At 6-4, 225 Johns brings a big body to their back end.
The Blues will probably bring their 'Hit everything' mentality into this one but we have to remember that if you're doing the hitting you don't have the puck. In game six against Minnesota the Stars were outhit 26-11 but ended up with the 5-4 victory. Don't put too much into hit statistics because sometimes that means your offensive opportunities are being limited or frustration could be setting in. If you really want a statistic that you can hang your hat on take a look at the blocked shots especially in the playoffs. This number is as important as faceoffs won and special teams success.
Looking at the series prices offered at Bovada, it would be a surprise that Dallas would be an underdog a month ago but when this number opened the Blues were a small -108 underdog on NHL Odds. We're still backing the Stars because we picked them in previous NHL Picks and the option of getting them in six games at +584 is intriguing.