With little to separate the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars coming into the series, Game 7 overtime was a fitting way to find a winner. That winner came courtesy of a Patrick Maroon goal 5:50 into the second overtime period. While Jordan Binnington was steady when called upon, it was the Blues role players that made the difference, as it was the Pat Maroon line was on the ice for both of St. Louis’ goals in Game 7. It was only fitting that the St. Louis native Pat Maroon would score the game-winner in St. Louis.
St. Louis Blues Depth Key Down The Stretch
As discussed in the series preview, St. Louis’ depth was a potential weapon that could help decide the series. Thanks in part to managing the defensive duties of the Stars big guns, both Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn failed to score a goal in the series. With the damage done by Tyler Seguin & co. limited by St. Louis’ top six, the door was left open for the Blues role players.
Jordan Binnington vs. Ben Bishop was arguably the biggest match-up to keep an eye on coming into the series. Both goaltenders played large roles in their respective teams advancing past round one. In round two, through the seven games, both goalies posted identical .922 save percentages. Conversely, Binnington’s 2.18 GAA was better than Bishop’s 2.50 GAA.
Having watched Bishop’s 52 save performance in Game 7, it feels unfair to say Binnington was the better goalie. Had it not been for the play of Bishop in the series finale, the Blues would likely have taken the game in a lopsided fashion. On the other hand, it is hard to ignore that Bishop was pulled in Game 6 after allowing four goals on just 20 shots.
Overall, Binnington was the more consistent goalie of the two. The goals against average of the two netminders appear to support this notion. While Bishop’s peak performances might have been the best of the series, Binnington was once again steady throughout.
Bright Spots for the Stars
In the present, the pain of coming so close to the Western Conference Finals is sure to hurt Stars fans for a while. Once the dust settles and things are put into perspective, there are plenty of positives to take away from Dallas’ run in this year’s playoffs:
Solidifying the goaltending situation has eluded the Stars in recent years. In Ben Bishop, Dallas has found a solution. With an AAV just shy of $5 million, Bishop is on a team friendly deal through the 2022-23 season. If Bishop can replicate his play from the 2018-19 season, the next four years should come with optimism for Stars fans.
The emergence of young stars Miro Heiskanen and Roope Hintz was another key factor in the Stars playoff run. Heiskanen averaged over 25 minutes a game in the post-season, playing in all situations and Hintz tallied eight points in 13 playoff games.
At only 19 years old, Heiskanen is likely to only get better moving forward. Similarly, Hintz spent parts of the 2018-19 regular season with the Stars AHL affiliate. With more NHL experience, both Hintz and Heiskanen have the potential to become star players for Dallas for the foreseeable future.
Blues Moving Forward
Regardless of their opponent, Blues fans should anticipate another lengthy, hard-fought series. As a team who scores by committee, their depth will once again be important.
Ultimately, much of their fate rests on the shoulders of Binnington. Prior to his first win of the season on January 7th, the Blues were dead last in the standings. Now, they find themselves eight wins away from becoming Stanley Cup Champions. If St. Louis is able to successfully fulfill their fairytale season, you can be sure Binnington will have a lead role.
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