For the second straight game, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues face off on Friday but this time from the Gateway City. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues
Friday, December 17, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Enterprise Center
Friday is the third of four regular-season meetings between these rivals, although they could definitely meet in the playoffs with both in the Central Division. St. Louis definitely will be a postseason team, but I’m not quite as sure about Dallas.
The season series is tied 1-1 with each club winning 4-1 in Dallas – thus, they are done playing there other than a playoff matchup. Here’s hoping this game is even played as the league is under siege by COVID.
A handful of games already have been postponed this week and things are likely only going to get worse the deeper into winter (and flu season) we get. In fact, the worst of it may come after the holidays because people will all be gathered together indoors then.
The NHL is implementing enhanced protocols through at least January 7th, even though reportedly every single player in the league but one is vaccinated. Under the enhanced protocols, players will be tested daily instead of every third day, all team personnel will be required to wear masks at facilities, meetings will be held virtually and everyone will be asked to limit all social interactions.
The NHL has not considered putting its season on pause but it could opt to withdraw from the Olympics. St. Louis is 7-3 at BMR’s top-rated books in the past 10 meetings.
Stars Heading in Wrong Direction
The Stars (13-11-2) were devasted early in the season by COVID and injury and really struggled out of the gate. However, they got healthy and turned things around in a big way, winning nine of 10.
Alas, following a seven-game winning streak they have lost four in a row – including Tuesday’s 4-1 home defeat to these Blues. Jake Oettinger had been playing so well that he started to share time with No. 1 goaltender Braden Holtby, but Oettinger wasn’t sharp Tuesday in allowing three third-period goals. It was the first time this season he allowed more than two goals.
"We had a few of those guys that were complete no-shows. We have no chance if we have guys that don't want to show up and play in those games," Coach Rick Bowness said.
Thus, I think it will be Holtby (5-6-1, 2.39 GAA, .923 SV) in this one. He has allowed two goals or fewer in four of his past five and has a 2.55 ERA on the road. It won’t matter who is in net Friday if the Stars don’t find any offense. The lone goal Tuesday was from Riley Damiani in his NHL debut. Dallas has two goals combined in its past three.
It didn’t help Tuesday that Alexander Radulov (one goal, 11 assists) was out recovering from a non-COVID illness and that fellow forward Roope Hintz (11 goals, seven assists) was placed on injured reserve. By using the retroactive placement, Hintz is still eligible to be activated for Friday’s game. Dallas averages just 2.65 goals per game and allows 2.81. The Stars are 1-5 on NHL picks in their past six road games.
Blues Getting Healthier?
St. Louis (16-8-5) is very thin right now due to injury/COVID yet impressively has won four of five despite that. Because the teams’ top two goaltenders are out, third-stringer Charlie Lindgren was in net again Tuesday and was excellent to improve to 4-0-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average. Lindgren is the second goalie in Blues history to win each of his first four games with them (Ryan Miller, 2013-14).
The Blues have to keep him with the big club for now regardless, and I’d think he starts here. No. 1 Jordan Binnington was cleared from COVID protocols on Wednesday and practiced Thursday but he’ll need some time to get back into game conditioning.
Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and two assists Tuesday and has at least two points in three of his past five. Pavel Buchnevich had two assists and co-leads the team with 25 points along with Tarasenko and Jordan Kyrou – he missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury and is questionable for Friday.
Forward Tyler Bozak and defenseman Justin Faulk returned Tuesday after missing seven and six games, respectively, while in the protocol. Faulk had a goal. Forwards David Perron, Robert Thomas, and Brayden Schenn are on injured reserve. Perron might be the best offensive player on the Blues.
The Blues were 2-for-5 on the power play Tuesday and are third in the NHL at 30.1 percent. They are seventh on the PK at 82.9 percent. Teams usually lose when allowing the first goal of a game, but St. Louis is 9-4-1 when that happens — a league-best this season. St. Louis is 7-1 on the NHL odds in its past eight at home.
NHL Pick: Under 5.5 goals (-118) with BetOnline
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