Wednesday was an exciting night of playoff hockey and it continues with four games tonight. The Lightning-Red Wings engaged in a physical affair, the Penguins-Rangers had a surprising battle of the backup goalies and the Blues-Blackhawks played in an ultra-exciting 1-0 OT game.
The third game of night features the Western Conferences top team and highest scoring team in the NHL. The Stars had a disappointing year in 2014-15, but their offence carried them to glory in 2015-16. The Wild on the other hand, they ranked 18th in scoring but ninth in goals against, 10 spots better than Dallas.
Each team is missing a key member up front, but the edge still goes to Dallas. The Stars will be without Tyler Seguin for Game 1, but he is expected to be in for Game 2. Zach Parise on the other hand will miss at least the first two games and is danger of missing the entire season with a back injury. Jason Spezza stepped up with Seguin out, picking up nine points (4G / 5A) in his final nine games and he comes in as one of the lone Dallas Stars with a lot of playoff experience—52 points (17G / 35A) in 56 career NHL playoff games. Patrick Sharp, who was acquired in the offseason also has a bunch of playoff experience. He has three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks and has registered 41 points (20G / 21A) in 65 games in the last three postseasons.
With Parise out, Jason Zucker will play on the Wild’s top line and their second line of Nino Niederreiter–Mikael Granlund–Jason Pominville will need to step up for the Wild to have a chance in this series. The Wild are without Erik Haula as well, which means their third line of Chris Porter–Zac Dalpe–David Jones will be overmatched.
This is a close one. Each team has one defenseman that leads the way. Ryan Suter plays an outrageous amount of minutes and he will be leaned on heavily to shut the Jamie Benn line down. While John Klingberg isn’t as good in his own end as Suter, he is a wizard with the puck in the offensive zone. Alex Goligoski has been a consistent point producer as well and the addition of Kris Russell should help defensively.
The Wild simply have more consistent defensive zone players and they will need to be on top of their game to shutdown the Stars explosive offence. The Stars blueline isn’t great, but they catch a break with no Parise in the lineup.
Luckily for the Wild, Devan Dubnyk gives them the edge in goal. The Stars tandem is average and tonight Kari Lehtonen gets the call. He was 2-0-0 despite allowing more than three goals per game vs. the Wild this season. Dubnyk doesn’t come in on top of his game, but he is a more consistent netminder than Lehtonen. He will need to stand on his head to give the Wild a chance vs. the Stars high-powered offence.
Prediction: Stars Win
Brock’s Prediction Record: 1-2
The Stars offence and the loss of Parise will prove to be too costly for the Wild. Even with Parise, I think the Stars would win this series and they should be able to win without Seguin.
Prediction: I think the Sharks can upset the Kings in this series, but I think the Kings get off to a nice start on home ice.