Watch the Stars get away with too many men until Vladimir Tarasenko makes them pay

Jared Clinton
Vladimir Tarasenko (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

There aren’t many teams who look favorably upon picking up a too many men penalty. If there was ever a team that wished they had been whistled for throwing an extra skater over the boards, though, it would have been the Dallas Stars in the first period of Thursday’s Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues.

Midway through the opening frame of Thursday’s game, the Stars made a disastrous line change that resulted in six Dallas skaters on the ice, but none of the four officials on ice caught the extra player. Play went on for several seconds, and what looked for a moment like a fortunate break for the Stars likely turned into coach Lindy Ruff likely wishing Dallas had been instead working to kill off a bad penalty.

With the Stars focused on the puck, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko snuck behind all six opponents for a clear cut breakaway, picked his spot and rifled the puck through Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen’s five-hole: Read more

Stars’ Lehtonen solid, Eakin scores overtime-winner as Dallas evens series

Cody Eakin is swarmed by teammates after scoring in overtime (Jeff Curry/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Dallas Stars leading 2-1 in the second period, center Cody Eakin took a slashing penalty against Blues winger Jaden Schwartz. It was from his seat in the penalty box Eakin watched as St. Louis’ Paul Stastny found the back of the net to tie the contest, and Dallas’ slim lead in an ever-important Game 4 slipped away.

Eakin wasn’t about to let his penalty which led to the game-tying goal be his memory of Game 4, though. After the teams battled back and forth in a scoreless third period, Eakin made his lasting mark on the contest in overtime.

Skating down the left wing, Eakin took a pass from Patrick Sharp less than three minutes into the extra frame. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko had given Eakin just enough room to operate that he could lift his head, pick his corner and let go a beautiful shot that found the tiny hole St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott left open over his right shoulder: Read more

Jori Lehtera, shirtless action hero astronaut politician? So says his chip commercial

Matt Larkin
Lehtera

To most North Americans he’s Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues center, fine puck distributor and habitual Vladimir Tarasenko linemate.

To his native Finns, Lehtera is more. What Chester Cheetah is to Cheetos…Lehtera is to a chip brand? In Finland?

Yes, according to this zany TV commercial that surfaced on YouTube Wednesday:

Lehtera stars as himself, being pitched by a scenery-chewing American to be the spokesman of Linkosuo Ruislastu chips. Cut to fantasy sequence including: Lehtera getting cozy with a blonde woman and showing off his ripped physique, a-la jeans model; Lehtera as an action movie hero; Lehtera as a governor? Lehtera as an astronaut? Yes. And he sells it all pretty well.

The chips are actually from a Finnish bakery. Linkosuo specializes in rye-based snacks. The mysterious woman Lehtera snuggles and later carries away from wreckage? His wife, Lotta Lehtera, a fitness model. As Finnish broadcaster Antti Makinen explained to me, Lotta’s father, Timo Janne, just happens to be GM of Linkosuo. And it all makes sense now.

A little over the top for a rye chip company? Nah. It’s fun. It would be nice the see more North American ads going this far. Connor McDavid, leading man? Why not? And we might as well say what we’re all thinking: couldn’t the World Cup ads be more like this?

Dominant Blues expose all of Stars’ flaws in Game 3 rout

Ian Denomme
Antti Niemi. (Getty Images)

It was nice the Dallas Stars won Game 1 of their second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. They might not win another one.

The Blues took a 2-1 series lead on Tuesday thanks to a dominant 6-1 victory over the Stars. The loss exposed all of the flaws and questions about the Stars that many had before the playoffs even started.

Let’s start with the goaltending. It’s a mess.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Why the Rangers should target Kevin Shattenkirk

Kevin Shattenkirk (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It’s been over a week since the New York Rangers were eliminated from the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. That hasn’t dampened the speculation over their off-season roster plans.

Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News believes the Rangers should find a replacement for pending UFA defenseman Keith Yandle via the trade market. He suggests they offer up left winger Rick Nash to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

Nash is signed through 2017-18 at an annual cap hit of $7.8 million. Shattenkirk, meanwhile, has only only one season remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $4.25 million. He’ll be eligible next summer for UFA status and could be too expensive to re-sign. This suggested trade would reunite Nash with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who Leonard thinks might get a contract extension. Shattenkirk, meanwhile, could play top-two minutes and thus push Dan Girardi into a secondary role.

Read more

Watch Blues’ Backes score his second overtime winner of the playoffs

Jared Clinton
David Backes (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

David Backes isn’t relied upon in St. Louis to score at the same rate as, say, Vladimir Tarasenko, but this post-season the Blues captain has come up with of the biggest goals of the year for his team.

First, it was his Game 1 overtime winner against the Chicago Blackhawks, a goal which deflected in off the skate of defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and through the legs of netminder Corey Crawford. While it may have been a lucky break and a friendly bounce for the Blues, it was no less important and no less fitting in a series that St. Louis desperately needed after three straight first-round exits.

But the Blues aren’t ready to leave after only one round, and it was Backes again who scored a huge goal that could extend St. Louis’ season. After the Blues blew a 3-1 lead in the third period, St. Louis and Dallas headed to the first overtime of their first-round series. It was in the extra frame that Stars winger Antoine Roussel took an ill-advised interference minor that set the table for Backes to end the game by slipping a power play goal by Antti Niemi: Read more

Roussel’s penalties prove costly as Stars drop Game 2 to Blues

Antoine-Roussel-DAL

There’s an old adage in hockey that states stupid penalties are harder to kill off. Antoine Roussel and the Dallas Stars learned that the hard way on Sunday.

The St. Louis Blues scored twice in the game on separate unwise Roussel penalties, including when captain David Backes found the back of the net 10:58 into overtime. The 4-3 loss in Game 2 allowed the Blues to even the Western Conference semifinal series before it shifted to St. Louis.

Read more