NHL Round Two Playoffs Preview: St. Louis vs. Dallas

The Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues are playing for all the glory and to win they’ll have to brace for one final battle.

The Stars, who played this past Monday night has their heels hanging off the edge of the cliff, and yet someone were able to climb right back up the mountain and win. They forced a Game 7, which for the St. Louis Blues, who defeated the former Stanley Cup Championsto get here – is a potential disaster.

How did they manage it? Dallas goaltender, Kari Lehtonen had to make 35 saves for Dallas to push themselves toward a decisive Game Seven. The 3-2 victory at Scottrade Center two nights ago, in the Western Conference semi-finals, was a shocker, probably even to the Stars themselves.

The Stars were scoring on all cylinders, with rookie Mattias Janmark, Vernon Fiddler and Jason Spezza scoring for the Stars, and so were able to prevail despite being outshot 37-14.

All that hard work got them a Game 7 at home, in a series where four of the last five games have been won by the road team, so if they want to win they’ll have to buck the trend like only cowboys from the lonestar can do.

Many fans though happy will also be frustrated as to why it had to go to a seveth game and why does every player and coach in hockey instinctually fall back on the typical response when asked how they feel about the match up: “We worked all year to get home ice for Game 7.” For these two teams that ‘hard work’ might not matter.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff told media on Tuesday that he thinks that advantage will eventually pay off. He spoke with curious reporters after an optional skate at the club’s Frisco, Tex., training facility. He explained home mattered, “Because that noise you hear in the building is for you.”

“I … I can’t answer that question. After all these years, I don’t know. I just know that you have a little bit of an advantage.”

But when you look at how the Stars were swarmed and overtaken by the St. Louis Blues for most of Game 6, that miraculously they won anyway, the home side is going to have to be a lot more effective Wednesday night if they want to see the conference finals.

But honestly, this game is exciting because there truly is no handicapping this series. It’s all up to fate and how the puck wants to bounce. Home ice thus far has added up to diddly squat, given the road team has won three in a row and four of six in the series.

Another surprise, Blues goalie, Brian Elliott, who had so far in the series played well, was replaced when the Stars took a scary 3-0 lead, which happened on just seven shots at 16:49 of the first period. Netminder Jake Allen took over and finished in his first appearance of this postseason, after facing only seven more shots in the final two-plus periods. Yet he still registered the loss.

St. Louis will be looking to get its first trip to the Western Conference final since 2001. And on the other side, Dallas who finished first overall in the Western conference, made it that far recenty as 2008.

But no matter how you crack the numbers, you cannot avoid the air and element of randomness to any one hockey game in this series which makes it quite foolish to confidently predict how the game will be played, or who will actually win it.

But whoever does win on Wednesday night, they both have an amazing if not excellent chance of winning in the next round since they are two powerfully offensive and high flying teams. That’s they don’t knock each other out first. It’s a content of endurance now. But the good news is their potential future opponent have their hands full too, since there is a massive struggle going on between Nashville and San Jose, who’ll also play a seventh game tomorrow night too.

“I think we get to make up anything we want. You guys can take any angle you want, and I can make up anything I want,” said Ruff.

“I’m not going to say it’s a lottery, because I don’t think it is,” said defenceman Johnny Oduya, who played in three Games 7 with Chicago while winning two Stanley Cups. But we think it kinda is.

Our (guess) pick: Stars over Blues, 4-2