NHL Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Tuesday, Aug. 18): Stars vs. Flames Game 5 Preview
Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Miro Heiskanen.
- The Dallas Stars (-129 odds) and Calgary Flames (+112 odds) meet in a key Game 5 matchup Tuesday.
- With the series tied 2-2, Pete Truszkowski sees clear value on one side at the right price.
- See his full game analysis, including his predictions and picks below.
Game 5: Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames Odds
|Stars Odds||-129 [BET NOW]|
|Flames Odds||+112 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5.5 (-141/+116) [BET NOW]|
|Time||5:30 p.m. ET|
The first round of the NHL Playoffs invariably offers drama-filled, back-and-forth series that prove just how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup. If there is one series that personifies this at the moment, it’s the Calgary Flames’ series with the Dallas Stars.
There has not been a favorite in this series larger than -130. Three of the four games have been decided by one goal. One game went to overtime, and another was decided in the final 40 seconds of regulation. Through four games, the series is tied.
In a series this tight, you might be tempted to just blindly bet the underdog. But, the small favorite might still be slightly undervalued.
Dallas’ team identity has always been its defense and goaltending. Throughout the regular season, the Stars ranked fifth in expected goals and seventh in expected goals against. They also ranked second with 2.52 goals allowed per game; only the Boston Bruins allowed fewer.
However, the Stars’ prolific goaltending has not carried over to their playoff series with Calgary. During the regular season, Anton Khudobin and Ben Bishop combined to register a .920 save percentage. During this series against the Flames, the two goalies have only stopped 102-of-115 shots (.887 save percentage).
Nonetheless, that observed drop in save percentage could be fluky. After all, four games is a very small sample size compared to the 70-game sample of a regular season. So, there’s reason to believe that the Stars goalies will figure things out and stop more pucks moving forward.
Ben Bishop has missed most of the series due to injury, but Khudobin has been an apt replacement all year long, and we shouldn’t expect that to change now.
Perhaps more importantly, the Stars have dominated this series in terms of possession and shot quality. Dallas has 217 shot attempts compared to 156 for Calgary, good for 58.2% of the attempts. High-danger chances are 38-to-21 (64.4%) in favor of the Stars. And Dallas also leads in expected goals, 8.14 to 4.22 (65.9%).
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The best way to describe Calgary’s performance thus far is “opportunistic.”
The Flames have arguably been outplayed in every game this series. But, they have hung around deep into each contest through a combination of great goaltending and shooting prowess.
However, Calgary needs more from its top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm. During the playoffs when Lindholm has been on the ice, Calgary has only commanded 32.6% of the expected goals. It’s not much better for Gaudreau and Monahan, who check in at 34.2% and 40.2% respectively.
The Flames did not use their home-ice advantage in the previous two games to avoid matching up their top trio against Miro Heiskanen and Jamie Oleksiak on the Stars’ blueline. Heiskanen and Oleksiak have absolutely eaten up the Flames’ top line and wholly neutralized it. Calgary needs Gaudreau, Monahan and Lindholm to step up to the occasion, or coach Geoff Ward may have to find a way to avoid this matchup.
Matthew Tkachuk is a game-time decision for Game 5, but he earned the same injury designation for Game 3 and Game 4 –both of which he missed. Tkachuk is a huge loss, because his style of play irritates and exhausts opponents, resulting in dumb mistakes and potential power play opportunities for Calgary. He is likely the Flames most dangerous forward outside of the top line. If Tkachuk misses another game, Calgary may struggle to overcome its glaring lack of depth.
Dallas has been the better team so far, but I still expect the series to remain close. The Stars don’t have the star power to blow teams out, no matter how many opportunities they generate.
Bookmakers have begun to show Dallas more respect as the series has progressed. Dallas has closed Game 1 at -103; the Stars opened at -130 (FanDuel) for Game 5.
At -130, I think the price is a little steep. I would avoid playing Dallas at that price, especially since there is a -118 out there at BetMGM.
Pick: Dallas Stars (-120 or better).