Stanley Cup Playoffs: Monday’s betting preview and odds

 

The Western Conference takes center stage Monday night as the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks both have 3-2 series leads and look to advance to the Conference Finals.

Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues (A: +140, H: -150, O/U: 5)

Blues lead series 3-2

The St. Louis Blues look to secure their first Western Conference final berth in 15 years on Monday when they attempt to eliminate the Central Division-rival Dallas Stars in Game 6 at Scottrade Center. Although St. Louis inched closer to the Promised Land with a 4-1 triumph in Game 5 on Saturday afternoon, forward Alex Steen cautioned his club that it shouldn’t look too far ahead.

“It doesn’t really change much,” Steen told reporters. “We expect their best and obviously we’re going to bring ours and it’s going to be a heck of a hockey game again. It’s no real different situation. We’ve got to win another hockey game.” Blues goaltender Brian Elliott has been the primary reason the Blues are on the brink of their first conference title appearance since 2001, making 27 saves on Saturday – with two coming from point-bank range on Game 4 overtime hero Cody Eakin. Despite seeing his team pushed to the edge, Dallas coach Lindy Ruff isn’t overly concerned as the series shifts back to the Show Me State. “I’m confident. These guys, they’ve given us everything they’ve had all year and we’ve had some tough situations, and they’ll pull out of it,” Ruff told reporters.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

PROBABLE GOALIES:

Stars – Kari Lehtonen (W/L: 5-2, GAA: 2.65, SAVE %: .905)

Blues – Brian Elliott (W/L: 7-5, GAA: 2.20, SAVE %: .930)

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE STARS (56-26-11, 50-39 O/U): After going 4-for-19 on the power play in its first-round series, Dallas has converted just once in 16 opportunities the man-advantage versus St. Louis – a far cry from the 22.1 percent efficiency it showed in the regular season. Despite the team’s struggles, captain Jamie Benn insists the Stars aren’t getting down on themselves. “There’s not too much (frustration with the power play),” said Benn, who scored 17 times with the man advantage in the regular season but has yet to do so in the playoffs. “We’ve just got to go out there as a group of five and try to make a difference.”

ABOUT THE BLUES (56-27-11, 37-42 O/U):
Veteran forward Troy Brouwer has received his wake-up call with four goals and three assists in the past seven contests after being held off the scoresheet in each of his previous five. Robby Fabbri joined Brouwer in scoring in Game 5 and added an assist for his fourth multi-point performance of the postseason – with his 10 points (two goals, eight assists) leading all rookies. “It’s pretty awesome, to think last year I was sitting watching (the playoffs) and a year later, I’m in them,” the 20-year-old Fabbri told reporters. “It’s been a great ride, just have to keep going here.”

TRENDS:

* Stars are 17-4 in their last 21 games following a loss of 3 or more goals.
* Blues are 4-1 in their last five meetings at home.
* Over is 5-0-3 in Stars last 8 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Over is 4-0-2 in Blues last 6 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.

San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators (A: -110, H: -110, O/U: 5)

Sharks lead series 3-2

Although they’ve held serve at home, the San Jose Sharks can punch their ticket to their fourth Western Conference final appearance should they show the mettle that made them the top road team during the regular season. Boasting an NHL-best 28-10-3 mark away from home, the Sharks look to quiet Music City on Monday when they face off against the host Nashville Predators in Game 6.

“We know it’s a tough challenge to win in Nashville. (Monday’s) a huge game,” San Jose veteran Joe Thornton told reporters. “They’re going to play desperate. We got to play just as desperate. I expect their ‘A’ game and our ‘A’ game too. Can’t wait.” Nashville’s second line of Mike Fisher, Colin Wilson and James Neal has collected seven goals in the last three contests – including the club’s lone tally in a 5-1 setback in Game 5 on Saturday. “We just need to go into Nashville and have a better game,” Neal told reporters. “Our team will. I believe in the guys. We’ll regroup.”

TV: 9 p.m. ET, CNBC, SN, TVAS2

PROBABLE GOALIES:

Sharks – Martin Jones (W/L: 7-3, GAA: 2.20, SAVE %: .917)

Predators – Pekka Rinne (W/L: 6-6, GAA: 2.37, SAVE %: .909)

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE SHARKS (53-31-8, 47-35 O/U): Joe Pavelski scored twice in Game 5 to raise his postseason total to a a team-high eight, one shy of the NHL lead held by Tampa Bay’s young stud Nikita Kucherov. Logan Couture also tallied on Saturday for his 13th point, joining defenseman Brent Burns for club-best honors while residing just one behind Dallas’ Jamie Benn. “That’s what we’re supposed to do; we’re supposed to go out and contribute offensively and score goals and play well,” Couture told reporters of the team’s veteran leadership. “When we’re winning games, most nights the big guys are contributing. That’s just expected.”

ABOUT THE PREDATORS (47-33-14, 37-36 O/U): After mustering just one point (a goal) in Nashville’s seven-game series with Anaheim, Fisher has erupted for four tallies and two assists against San Jose. Speaking of the first round, the Predators must repeat the feat of winning Games 6 and 7 should they wish to reach the conference final for the first time in franchise history. Nashville needs more out of Filip Forsberg, who had 33 goals in the regular season but has mustered just two in the playoffs and is a staggering minus-8 in the series.

TRENDS:

* Sharks are 5-0 in their last 5 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
* Predators are 1-5 in their last 6 games following a loss of 3 or more goals.
* Over is 4-0-3 in Sharks last 7 overall.
* Over is 3-0-2 in Predators last 5 overall.
* Sharks are 1-8 in the last 9 meetings in Nashville.

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