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Our picks for today's NHL Stanley Cup Playoff action

Blues @ Stars

This Game 3 features two evenly matched teams. St. Louis jumped out to a lead in game 1 and held on. Dallas sprinted out to a two-goal lead and held on to edge the Blues to even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.

Then, the goalies take center stage. It has been a strange series where both goalies have been good to pretty good. Game 1 was a low-scoring affair, but the pace picked up in Game 2 after Dallas scored three times in the opening 20 minutes. That is the exception as opposed to the rule for this round. Early on, here are their numbers:

  • Jordan BInnington:  1-1 with a 2.51 GAA, .921 save percentage.
  • Ben Bishop:  1-1 with a 2.51 GAA, .907 save percentage.

Binnington’s quality start came in Game 1 and he almost had one in Game 2 as well. Bishop started poorly due to low shot volume faced in the first game but came up clutch (32 saves on 34 shots) in the second game.

With the shift in venue comes the expected shift in projected numbers. It was Binnington who was slightly favored in St. Louis and now that has switched over to Bishop. Bishop was the better goalie in Game 2, so he is carrying the momentum as well. He made more quality saves on high-danger shots than the St. Louis goaltender. Dallas should get a lift from the home crowd much the same way the Blues did. The expectation is that Dallas should hold a shots advantage. Projections suggest a margin of 5-7 shots in favor of the Stars for Game 3.

Why is there a heavy focus on the goaltending? Saturday night’s game in Boston where Sergei Bobrovsky literally stole a win in double overtime for the Columbus Blue Jackets. At some point, a team needs their goaltender to bail them out. Bishop did that in Game 2. Will Binnington do that as the scene shifts?

Finally, the third key is this. It will be intriguing to see which top-six unit sustains its production first. So far in this series, the top line of St. Louis shined in Game 1 led by Vladimir Tarasenko’s two goals. In Game 2, it was about Roope Hintz and the second line of Dallas. Hintz broke through with two goals and an assist in the 4-2 Dallas victory.

If St. Louis is to win this Game 3, they will need some depth scoring besides the Tarasenko line. Jaden Schwartz has looked good in the early going of this series. Taking the crowd out of the game early will be vital. Finally, special teams have their place as well and that is a slight edge to Dallas – especially in this series. Dallas needs its top line to step up more consistently like the rest of its middle-six has so far. Yet, it is why a lot of signs indicate the following predictions for Game 3.

1u – DAL Stars MoneyLine @ -117

1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +160 (Value Play)

1u – DAL Stars PuckLine (-1.5 goals) @ +250

By Chris Wassel

Article Author


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