Tonight in Dallas, the Stars have a chance to advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2007-08. But the Blues will put up a fight, as they face elimination for the first time this postseason. Regardless, Game 6 will result in either the continuation of this excellent series or its conclusion.
Here is a brief recap on what happened the last time these two teams faced off, as well as some keys to victory and a final prediction.
Game 5 Recap
Ben Bishop put on another stellar performance, stopping 38 of 39 shots as the Stars won a pivotal Game 5 by a score of 2-1. Despite being outshot by 12, the Stars made the most of their chances, with Jason Spezza scoring less than three minutes in and Esa Lindell scoring a period later. Jaden Schwartz scored his team-leading seventh goal of the playoffs a little less than halfway into the third, but that was all the Blues were able to muster.
Keys for St. Louis
The Blues dominated the shot battle in Friday’s game but scored just one goal following a bad Bishop turnover. A big reason for that is the power play, where they failed to convert on all four chances they had with the extra attacker. Overall, they are just 2-for-16 on the power play against the Stars, a steep decline from the 5-for-19 they were against Winnipeg. The Blues will have to put more of an emphasis on blocking Bishop’s vision and creating traffic in front of him. Another 0-for-4 performance with the extra man, and the Blues season could end this afternoon.
Another area St. Louis will have to correct is the amount of times they turn the puck over. In Game 5, the Stars had just six giveaways. Meanwhile, the Blues had 15, giving Dallas multiple odd-man rushes and breakaways. Jordan Binnington did everything he could in those instances, which was the main reason the Stars only managed two goals. St. Louis will have to clean up sloppy play against a very stingy Dallas defense for Game 6.
Keys for Dallas
A common theme for Dallas’ success or failure is the performance of Bishop. If he’s been on top of his game, which for most of the postseason he has, the Stars have been able to rally behind him. He will likely continue to succeed, but the Stars will need to help him a little bit more. Third period performances, like Game 5’s where Dallas was outshot 15-5, will not always turn out so lucky for the Stars.
Another key will be how the Stars handle a close-out game. They succeeded the first go-around against Nashville, beating them in Game 6 at home in the first round. But now they will have to do it again with the threat of Game 7 on the line, against a Blues team who only lost three games in a row once since their season turnaround in early January.
Before the series began, I picked the Blues to win based on their advantage in depth and goaltending. But five games in, the Stars have beaten them in both of those categories. Overall, Dallas has gotten scoring contributions from multiple lines and Bishop has been incredible, and those factors will come into play once again today. Give me the Stars -125 to advance to the next round.