This time of year teams will take any bulletin board material they can get. Did the St. Louis Blues tough guy provide some for a Stars team that’s been outscored 10-4 in the last two games and is a loss away from a 3-1 series deficit? Maybe. But Reaves’ public display of affection for his opponents should be way at the bottom on the list of concerns for Lindy Ruff’s team.
Who gets the call in net?
Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice after Thursday’s skate making him the likely Game 4 starter following a relief appearance in Game 3. He has a .926 even strength save percentage in seven games this postseason. Neither Dallas netminder has played well-enough consistently to inspire much confidence in the position. Ruff, however, has rotated his goaltenders pretty equally during the season and isn’t worried that there is no clear-cut No. 1.
"I know that's hard for you guys to buy into, because this two goalie thing is new to you guys and you'd rather just ask me about one goalie,” Ruff said on Wednesday. “But we've had two goalies that have played really well that have got us to where we are. And last time I checked, it was in a pretty good place.
“Do they stumble every now and then? Yeah, they do. But the alternative is I have another guy to go to all of the time. They've bought into the way we're doing it, and it's led us to this point. What we do from this point on will be determined by (Thursday) night."
As Defending Big D shows, Lehtonen has shown glimpses of great goaltending this postseason, but the Stars need him to up his game now more than ever.
How does the defense stop leaking goals?
Dallas has allowed six or more goals nine times season. In the nine games following those poor defensive outings, the Stars have won six of them.
Ruff noted that he has options to turn to if he feels like changing up the defense, but he also pointed out how well the defense responded following tough games. The Blues have averaged 29.9 through three games of the series at even strength, scoring six times.
What adjustments need to be made on the power play?
The Stars have failed on all 11 opportunities with the extra man in the series, including a pair of 0-for-4s in their two losses. Playoff time is not the time for your special teams units to go into a slumber (The penalty kill, meanwhile, has allowed four goals on 14 Blues power plays.). Ruff said that with Seguin out they tried a different setup despite not having much time to practice with it. When will those adjustments start paying off?
Heading into Game 4, the Stars certainly aren’t tense if their post-morning skate sing-a-long is any indication. They have a lot to do to erase the mistakes from the last two games and head back to Dallas with an evened series, otherwise they could probably kiss their Stanley Cup dreams goodbye.
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