Mac Engel

Bet on the Dallas Stars over the Blues in Game 7 for one reason

Vegas and bookies like the St. Louis Blues, and if I was not just so financially responsible (a cute way to say “cheap”), I would bet all of your money on the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, in the greatest event created since fire: Game 7.

Don’t bore with me analytics, or the record of the home team in Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If you insist, the home team wins 58 percent of the time.

Just tell me the name of the goalie, and start from there.

When the Stars hosted Game 7 in the West semis against the Blues in 2016, the names of the Stars’ goalies were Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. That was reason enough to be afraid.

The duo in that Game 7 was so bad the Stars would have been better off putting Empty Net in goal. The Stars were smoked, 6-1.

I am not betting on the Stars as much as I am betting on goalie Ben Bishop to not dog it up the way he did in his team’s Game 6 gag job. The last time Bishop pulled this sort of Basset Hound routine on consecutive nights was the first two games of January.

Bishop took a bump in Game 6 but both he and the Stars say he’s fine, and is a player for Game 7.

When it comes to Game 7, go with the goalie who has been there before. Always be worried about the rookie goalie past the first round round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Blues have rookie Jordan Binnington in goal. Game 7 on Tuesday will be his 13th career NHL postseason game. Bishop will be making his 37th Stanley Cup playoff start.

Rookie goalies seldom fly far in the NHL postseason.

This does not make Ben Bishop the second coming of Martin Brodeur. Bish’ has been quite ish at times in this series; what he has not done is to be bad in consecutive games.

And in his previous 36 playoff games, he has only taken the loss in consecutive games twice.

That’s the gamble. That he won’t do it a third time on Tuesday night.

That and winning on the road in the NHL playoffs just no longer carries the weight and burden it once did.

When I asked Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy if the lower-seeded team should expect to have to win two road games to close out a series, he deftly answered, “We don’t care where we play.”

You can’t get that sort of insight, candor and analysis just anywhere.

With the exception of their color patterns, and their styles of play, there is little difference between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues. The Stars have scored 16 goals in this series. The Blues have scored 16 goals in this series.

If the Stars can get out and skate, they are the better team. If the Blues slow it down, they are the better team.

Whichever team loses on Tuesday night will know they were right there, and will kick themselves all the way to the postseason for blowing a chance to reach the Western Conference Finals.

Selfishly, I don’t want to see the Stars’ run end, primarily because postseason hockey can be intoxicating; while I am too fiscally responsible to bet my own money I will gladly take yours to Vegas and put it on the road team.

Take the goalie.

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