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Blues vs. Stars Game 1 Betting Odds, Preview: Two Great Defenses Tangle

Credit:

Jeff Curry, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jamie Benn

  • The St. Louis Blues are -150 favorites over the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their second-round series.
  • Both of these teams rely on good defense and solid goaltending, which should set up for a tight series.

Game 1 Betting odds: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues

Stars odds: +135
Blues odds: -150
Over/Under: 5
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN

On Jan. 2, the St. Louis Blues were in last place in the NHL. Now they are favored to make it to the Western Conference Finals.

St. Louis’ run through the second half of the season was no mirage, either. The Blues grew into one of the league’s best teams as the season went on. Over their last 45 games, the Blues led the NHL in both Goals For % and expected goals.

Like many teams that experience a mid-season turnaround, the Blues’ success was due in large part to improved defense and hot goaltending. On Jan. 7, Jordan Binnington made his first start for the Blues and it wasn’t long until the rookie netminder took the league by storm.

Binnington was solid in the first round, but as a whole, St. Louis didn’t set the world on fire against Winnipeg. In the end, the Blues came out on the right side of a close series thanks to making less mistakes than the Jets.

This series will have a very different look for St. Louis as the Stars, like the Blues, are a defense-first team and they will be happy to cede possession and focus on limiting quality scoring chances for the Blues.

Although the Stars never hit the rock bottom that the Blues did, their regular season was largely unremarkable, as they rode terrific goaltending from Ben Bishop and a great defensive structure to the first Wild Card spot in a weak Western Conference.

Weirdly, Dallas’ defense wasn’t all that great in an impressive six-game series win over Nashville. At times the Stars stifled the Predators, but they won that series largely thanks to massive individual performances from Jamie Benn, Alex Radulov, Tyler Seguin and, of course, Bishop.

After putting together a sparkling regular season, Bishop outplayed reigning Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne in Round 1. The 6-foot-7 netminder had to be good, as the Stars allowed the most expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 of any team in the first round. Like I said, it was an out-of-character performance from Dallas, but the Stars advanced.

Game 1 Betting Analysis

Stylistically, this game — and series — should play out pretty tight. Both of these teams have a similar recipe for success: Play sturdy defense and get good goaltending. That should lead to close games with very little margin for error.

Given the profiles of these teams and their goaltenders, a lot of bettors will be focusing on the Over/Under in this series, but I find hockey totals to be an incredibly difficult bet to handicap and would rather use these low totals as context to help inform a bet on the moneyline. In this case, the Over/Under is hinting at a low-scoring, tight game.

That being the case, I’m happy to side with the underdog in what should be a cagey Game 1. There’s a chance that what we saw from the Stars in Round 1 was a fluke, but their offense is trending in the right direction and they already have shown a real knack for turning games into coin flips.

The current odds suggest St. Louis has a 58.5% chance of winning on Thursday night. That means that on neutral ice, the Blues would be around 53.5%, and while I think that number is close to fair, it still is underrating the Stars just enough to have a punt on the underdog.

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