The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars meet on Saturday for Game 1 of their Conference Semifinals series, and both clubs should be confident after dominant stretches of hockey.
Dallas rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win its last three against Calgary, including a five-goal second period in the 7-3 clincher. Meanwhile, the Avs won each of their final two against Arizona by a mind-boggling score of 7-1.
Continue reading for abe Insights' Stars-Avs preview, which has the best odds available upon publication, a breakdown of the central betting lines, noteworthy stats and more for this exceptional face-off.
Date: Saturday, August 22
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Stars 40%; Avalanche 62%
Spread: DAL +1.5 (-180); COL -1.5 (+175)
Moneyline: DAL +150; COL -160
Ben Bishop made one start between the pipes in the opening round, but he's ceded the crease for the most part to Anton Khudobin. It's likely the latter will get the nod tonight, as Bishop has been banged up throughout the postseason.
The Avs are much healthier than they were in the regular season, and as their facile five-game series with the Coyotes showed, they're a force to be reckoned with. Beyond MVP finalist Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado is loaded with depth, and has two solid-if-not-spectacular goalies in Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz.
30.6 vs. 76.7: Colorado leads all playoff teams in power play percentage (the first number). Next is Dallas' penalty killing success rate, which is 19th among 24 playoff clubs. The Stars have even let in three shorthanded goals.
.290 vs. .059: If Dallas has proven to have any standout quality amid its roller-coaster season, it's resilience, as the Sheriffs ranked third in point percentage when trailing through two periods. The injury-plagued Avs were third-worst in this category.
73 vs. 49: Quite a contrast here, however — in spite of the rampant, frequent lineup changes, Colorado led the NHL in first-period goals during the 2019-20 campaign, with the Stars ranking second-to-last.
The Avs could run away with Game 1 early if Dallas isn't careful. After all, the underdogs gifted Calgary three quick goals in their last game before rattling off an amazing seven unanswered goals. That was by far the Stars' biggest offensive eruption in recent memory, as they've constantly struggled to generate offense.
Thanks to the constant of MacKinnon in Colorado's lineup, the Avs haven't really slipped offensively even after so many key scorers were out of action. Now they're coming into their own as a playoff juggernaut. Even with the rally Dallas just pulled off, you can bet interim coach Rick Bowness' bunch want no part of the Avs right now.
Colorado has +17.82 Corsi figure during this postseason. That is, taking into account blocked shots, the Avs outshoot opponents 63.9 to 46.08 per 60 minutes in 5-on-5 situations. Combine that with an elite power play unit, and it's easy to see why the 'Lanches are so dangerous.
Hope springs for the Stars in the form of the regular-season series, though. They got the upper hand in all four meetings with the Avalanche, allowing no more than two goals each time. That may be a key antidote to Dallas distancing itself from the round-robin matchup, where Colorado decisively prevailed, 4-0.
If anyone can stop the Avalanche from rolling through the remainder of the playoffs and to a Stanley Cup title, it's these stout Stars. The question is whether they can generate enough scoring chances and maintain enough of the puck possession share to avoid being overwhelmed. Game 1 will set the tone for all of those factors.
Betting against Colorado right now doesn't seem like the wisest choice, and with the state getting more and more integrated to the legal sports betting marketplace, expect more of a handle and a higher percentage of wagers on the Avalanche spread and moneyline.
These clubs scored seven goals apiece the last time they touched the ice in Edmonton. A standard total feels a little low, so look for the betting public to ramp up the Over with the majority of the action.
Note: Odds current as of 12:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 22.
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