2019 NHL Playoffs – 2nd Round Preview – STL vs. DAL

Updated: April 25, 2019 at 4:15 pm by Dylan Berthiaume

The Blues and Stars are set to collide after each knocking out a Central Division giant in round one. Stellar performances from Jordan Binnington and St. Louis’ second-line were enough to overthrow the Jets and their mighty power-play. The Stars made good on their chances and Ben Bishop, arguably the best goaltender in the NHL this season, did the rest as Dallas conquered the Predators in a mere six games.

STL (Reg.)

DAL (Reg.)

STL (Playoffs)

DAL (Playoffs)

RECORD

45-28-9 (12TH)

43-32-7 (15TH)

4-2

4-2

GF/PG

2.98 (15TH)

2.55 (28TH)

2.67 (t-10th)

3.00 (7th)

GA/PG

2.68 (5TH)

2.44 (2ND)

2.67 (t-6th)

2.00 (t-2nd)

5V5 SV%

.921 (12TH)

.935 (2ND)

.922 (11th)

.932 (9th)

PP%

21.1% (10TH)

21.0% (11TH)

26.3% (5th)

18.2% (11th)

PK%

81.5% (9TH)

82.8% (5TH)

78.6% (9th)

100.0% (1st)

CF%

51.50% (10TH)

48.32% (22ND)

50.18% (8th)

46.84% (12th)


5v5

While Dallas’ first-line remains an offensive force at even strength, their lack of depth has led to some poor team numbers at 5v5. For better or worse, some of that is by design, and there’s no better example of that than Radek Faksa’s historically-bad usage. At 26.9%, Faksa registered a comically-low offensive-zone start percentage during the regular season, more often than not while he was matched up against the opposition’s best players. It resulted in a 45.61 CF% for Faksa, but it did allow their top-line to see some cushier matchups at even strength. You can expect Faksa to be glued to the Blues’ first-line on home ice in this series, as Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will look to limit Tyler Seguin‘s ice-time against Ryan O’Reilly.

The acquisition of Mats Zuccarello and the emergence of Roope Hintz have done wonders for the depth of the Stars, but it’s still an area where they are severely outmatched against the Blues. As Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz showed in round one, St. Louis doesn’t need their top line to do all the heavy lifting offensively. While the work of O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko speaks for itself, the Schwartz and Bozak lines have proven to be just as reliable at even strength. The balanced nature of St. Louis’ top-nine could create a matchup nightmare for the Stars. Seguin may be able to dodge O’Reilly for three of the possible seven games, but Schwartz and Brayden Schenn are far from an ideal alternative. The Blues’ dominant, consistent play at 5v5 should give them a huge advantage over the Stars.

Special Teams

The Stars’ penalty-kill was a perfect 15 for 15 in the first round, but that was against the worst power-play in the NHL. The Predators converted on just 12.9% of their power-plays during the regular season. St. Louis is an entirely different beast on the power-play. Their second unit has proven to be just as potent as their first. It’s turned the man advantage into a consistent source of goals for the Blues all season long. Penalty-killing has become a hallmark of this Stars team, and that will need to continue if they’re going to have any shot at advancing to the third round.

The flip-side of the special teams matchup could very well decide this series. St. Louis should have a sizable advantage at 5v5, so Dallas needs to make up for it on the power-play. The Blues’ finished the season with the ninth-best penalty-kill in the league, and they held Winnipeg’s power-play to a respectable 21.4% in round one. A similar performance against the Stars’ power-play should be enough to advance, given St. Louis’ projected advantage at 5v5. Dallas will need a miraculous effort in goal from Bishop if they at all struggle on the man advantage.

Goaltending

Any hockey fan knows that come time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you’re only as good as your goalie, and Dallas just might have the best goalie in the league. Bishop would probably have ran away with this year’s Vezina Trophy had injuries not limited him to 46 appearances. The 32-year-old finished the year with the league’s best SV% (.934) and second-best GAA (1.98). He withstood the Predators’ relentless attack at 5v5 in round one, posting a .945 SV%. He will inevitably have to endure a similar barrage from the Blues, but he’s proven to be more than capable of handling the challenge. Bishop alone is enough of a reason to believe in the Stars.

The impact of Dallas’ elite goaltending could be mitigated by a 25-year-old rookie. Binnington took over the Blues’ starting job in January and never looked back. He posted a 24-5-1 record down the stretch, carrying his team to the playoffs. His 1.89 GAA led the entire NHL. He effectively turned a struggling, underperforming team into a Stanley Cup contender.

It’s easy to get nervous about a rookie goaltender in the playoffs, but Binnington has proven to be unique in that regard. He stared into the face of a sharpshooting Jets’ team, a team with as much talent and skill as any in the league, and the kid did not blink. Binnington will need to be good if he’s going to beat Bishop, that much is obvious, but he shouldn’t need to outplay the Vezina finalist. The advantage afforded to him by his team’s stellar 5v5 play means Binnington shouldn’t need to be anything more than above-average for the Blues to win this series.

Predictions

Dylan: Blues in 6️⃣

Brock: Blues in 6️⃣

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Dylan Berthiaume

Dylan has been an Associate Editor of DailyFaceoff since 2018 and a co-host of the DFO Podcast since 2015.
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