James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Full schedule for third round of 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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The St. Louis Blues don’t know if they’ll face the San Jose Sharks or Nashville Predators in the third round, but they know that their next series will start in St. Louis on Sunday.

Meanwhile, an intriguing Eastern Conference Final pits the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, with that series kicking off on Friday.

Want to plan your schedule? Here’s how it will all shape up (via the league):

All times ET, subject to change

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Pittsburgh Penguins (M2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A2)

Fri 5/13, 8pm: TBL @ PIT | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Mon 5/16, 8pm: TBL @ PIT | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Wed 5/18, 8pm: PIT @ TBL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Fri 5/20, 8pm: PIT @ TBL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Sun 5/22, 8pm:  TBL @ PIT | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Tue 5/24, 8pm:  PIT @ TBL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Thu 5/26, 8pm:  TBL @ PIT | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

WESTERN CONFERENCE

St. Louis Blues (C2) vs. San Jose Sharks (P3)/Nashville Predators (WC1)

Sun 5/15, 8pm: SJS/NSH @ STL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Tue 5/17, 8pm: SJS/NSH @ STL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Thu 5/19, TBD: STL @ SJS/NSH | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Sat 5/21, 7:15pm: STL @ SJS/NSH | NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

*Mon 5/23, 8pm:  SJS/NSH @ STL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Wed 5/25, TBD:  STL @ SJS/NSH | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Fri 5/27, 8pm:  SJS/NSH @ STL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*if necessary
TBD – To be determined

Stars coach admits he should have replaced Lehtonen sooner

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The Dallas Stars got embarrassed by the St. Louis Blues in a 6-1 Game 7 loss, but they’re not throwing Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi under the bus.

If anything, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff took some responsibility for not pulling the trigger on a goalie change sooner.

(Ruff waited until the second period when some believed he should have replaced Lehtonen with Niemi when it was 2-0.)

Granted, Ruff didn’t totally deny that Lehtonen allowed a couple tough goals here –

via the Dallas Morning News:

On the Blues’ second and third goals:

“He [Kari Lehtonen] would want them back. I think maybe it’s on me. We had the review and maybe it looked like he got a little bit rattled. I should have taken him out sooner. Maybe after the second one. It’s probably on me.”

Ken Hitchcock provided the Stars with effusive praise, deeming them “the future of the NHL” and “where the NHL is going.”

Maybe that’s true, but this time around, it was all about what the Blues did and how the Stars need to improve.

More from Hitchcock here:

Disaster in Dallas: Blues blow out Stars in Game 7

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People love Game 7’s because of the heart-stopping tension that comes when both teams are facing elimination. Sometimes a blowout can make such a situation a little anticlimactic.

The Dallas Stars and especially Kari Lehtonen laid an egg in the first period of Game 7, falling behind 3-0. While Dallas generated some impressive chances, the St. Louis Blues never really looked back in a 6-1 win.

The two final ugly goals of the first period really seemed to spell Dallas’ doom:

Some familiar faces came through for the Blues, with Brian Elliott making some big saves and enjoying the occasional break …

… While the likes of Troy Brouwer kept hot streaks going:

No doubt about it, the Stars’ goaltending will be remembered as one of the main stories of this series.

With that, the Blues move on to the Western Conference Final where they’ll face the winner of tomorrow’s Game 7 between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.

Meanwhile, the Stars see their often-promising 2015-16 season end with an enormous thud; they’ll face plenty of soul-searching questions about defending their own end of the ice (from the net on out).

Hey, at least the Stars avoided being on this specific list regarding Game 7 futility:

The Blues will enjoy home-ice advantage in the third round regardless of their opponent.

Yeah, that was one brutal period by Kari Lehtonen and the Stars

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Antti Niemi hasn’t officially replaced Kari Lehtonen in the Dallas Stars’ net heading into the second period of Game 7, but that’s probably a mere formality.

(Update: no surprise, Niemi replaced Lehtonen.)

Robby Fabbri‘s 1-0 goal was the least ugly in a brutal of the three goals that Lehtonen allowed in a wheels-falling-off opening frame in which the St. Louis Blues went up 3-0.

The Stars actually got bailed out when what seemed like a Vladimir Tarasenko goal – and an awful one in that – was killed off by an offside goal review. Paul Stastny then made it 2-0 with a goal that wasn’t a whole lot better.

Patrik Berglund then scored from way downtown to leave the Stars stunned going into the locker room, with observers wondering if Stars coach Lindy Ruff was merely hoping to get to the intermission down 2-0.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that the Pittsburgh Penguins went up 3-0 against the Washington Capitals last night, and while Pittsburgh won, the Caps pushed the game to OT.

There’s always the chance that the Stars could push back.

There’s also no denying that Lehtonen shoulders a ton of the blame in the Stars putting themselves in a huge hole.

So far, things haven’t been much easier for Niemi:

Ouch.

Video: Robby Fabbri opens scoring in Blues – Stars Game 7

The St. Louis Blues managed a 1-0 lead in Game 7 against the Dallas Stars thanks to a nice goal by young scorer Robby Fabbri.

You can watch video of that nice little shot above.

The Stars have enjoyed a handful of lose chances themselves, carrying a good chunk of the play otherwise. Brian Elliott‘s been sharp and a few pucks have hit posts/missed the net, however, so the Blues remain up 1-0 … for now.

Will see how important that Fabbri tally ends up being in the first Game 7 of this second round.