The Colorado Avalanche find themselves shorthanded, but still with faint Stanley Cup hopes as they seek to extend their conference semifinals series against the Dallas Stars in Wednesday's Game 6.
Colorado came out firing in the first period of the last contest, scoring five goals inside the first 20 minutes to overwhelm Dallas en route to a 6-3 victory. Despite how ugly it was for the Sheriffs, they still have two chances to finish the Avalanche.
For a deeper dive on this Avs-Stars showdown, continue reading for abe Insights' preview, highlighted by the best odds from all major sportsbooks, a look at the central betting lines, key stats and more vital information to weigh prior to wagering.
Date: Wednesday, September 2
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Avalanche 53%; Stars 49%
Spread: COL -1.5 (+220); DAL +1.5 (-240)
Moneyline: COL -115; DAL +105
Defense hasn't really been the Avs' strong suit, as their identity is built more around attacking and scoring flurries of goals, as they did the last time out. However, that end of the ice is no less difficult without alternate captain Erik Johnson on the blue line and two co-starting goalies down.
But third-stringer Michael Hutchinson filled in well enough to help the Avs stay alive in the playoffs, stopping 31 of 34 shots in Game 5. Whether he can sustain that level of play remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the Stars have a goalie controversy after Ben Bishop's recent return from injury, as Dallas went with him in Game 5 over Anton Khudobin.
16.02 vs. -2.93: Those figures represent the net playoff Corsi ratings for the Avalanche and Stars respectively (h/t MoneyPuck.com). What this means is Colorado has dominated opponents in creating offense amid 5-on-5 situations, with an overwhelmingly positive shots for versus shots against ratio.
26.0 vs. 23.7: These teams now have the top power play units among those remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's impressive for Dallas to be leading the way here, as its opportunistic offense continues to capitalize on the man advantage when it's presented.
3.36 vs. 2.58: Speaking of the Stars' implied struggles to score, they're third in goals per contest in the postseason, which is the first number. The second set of digits is their scoring average prior to the NHL restart, which was sixth-lowest in the league.
The improvement to Dallas' attack wasn't lost on Hutchinson, who was making his playoff starting debut in Game 5 and stayed ready in spite of how hot Colorado started out.
"Dallas has a very good offensive game," said Hutchinson, per NHL.com's Tracey Myers. "You saw what they did...last series after Calgary got off to a fast start (in Game 6, leading 3-0 then losing 7-3). Your game doesn't change whether you're up by a lot or it's a close game. Just stay present for the moment and be ready for anything."
An even more recent example came when the Avs got out to a 2-0 lead on the Stars in Game 3, only to watch Dallas score five unanswered goals to gain serious semifinals leverage.
Hutchinson made over half (17) of his 31 saves in the final period and allowed only one goal. It's a lot to ask of a 30-year-old journeyman to guard the crease in such a high-stakes situation, but the good news is, he has plenty of prolific scorers in front of him to help the cause.
MVP finalist Nathan MacKinnon has logged at least a point in 13 straight playoff games, and contributed a goal amid Monday's opening-period barrage on Bishop. It wasn't the most welcome return for the Stars goalie, who let in four goals on 19 shots.
The strategy to deploy Bishop over Khudobin backfired in a big way, so it'll be fascinating to see who Dallas goes with tonight — and whether there's a hangover effect from that decision.
Between the shaky situations for both sides' goaltenders and the fact that these teams have scored at such a high rate all series long, there's no reason to think the betting public won't overwhelmingly skew their bets to the Over goal total tonight.
With the Stars no longer in a trailing position, all the pressure is on them to close out Avs' offensive juggernaut. That dynamic and Colorado's recent emergence on the legal sports betting scene should combine to cause wagers to trend toward the Avalanche's spread and moneyline.
Note: Odds current as of 2:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday, September 2.
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