Antti Niemi. (Getty Images)
Their goaltending has been horrible, their stars aren't scoring -- the Stars are in big trouble against the Blues.
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.
The Stars, in theory, have two No. 1 goalies but neither Kari Lehtonen nor Antti Niemi is playing like one. The two goalies, who are both under contract for two more seasons at a combined $10.4 million per year, made appearances on Tuesday and both gave up three goals. Niemi started and got yanked after giving up three goals on 12 shots. Lehtonen played the final 37 minutes and made 24 saves.
But while neither goalie is playing like he deserves to be trusted, the Stars need to pick one and ride him, for better or worse. We’ve pointed out several times that goalie platoons don’t work in the playoffs.
The Stars have played nine playoff games now and the goalie carousel has looked like this: Lehtonen- Lehtonen- Lehtonen- Niemi- Niemi- Lehtonen- Lehtonen- Lehtonen/Niemi- Niemi/Lehtonen.
The Stars need to find a solution in goal or this will be a short season.
Not that the Stars’ brand of firewagon hockey is helping their goaltending situation much. They gave up 39 shots in Game 3, and surrendered two power-play goals. When it comes to the shots-on-goal department the Stars are supposed to give as good as they get, and they have been. The Stars are averaging 34 shots per game in the series. The problem is – they’re not going in.
The Stars were the highest scoring team in the regular season, and in fact have scored the second most goals in the playoffs. But against the Blues they are averaging only two goals per game. That’s not enough to win with their leaky defense, and horrible goaltending.
They miss Tyler Seguin, sure. But Jamie Benn (one goal, one assist), Jason Spezza (one assist), and Patrick Sharp (zero points) have gone MIA against the Blues through three games.
The Stars were impressive in the regular season. They were the surprise winners of the very tough Central Division and finished second to the Capitals in the Presidents’ Trophy race. But after a less-than-inspiring opening-round series against the Wild and getting blown out in Game 3 by the Blues, they’re showing they aren’t built to win in the playoffs.