Predators vs. Stars Odds & Picks: Fade Dallas in Late Season Opener
John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nashville’s Filip Forsberg.
- After a lengthy delay because of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Dallas Stars finally begin their season.
- Last season's Stanley Cup finalists face a tough first test in a strong Nashville squad.
- Read Pete Truszkowski's preview below, including his betting prediction.
Predators vs. Stars Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday night and via BetMGM.|
Ten days after the beginning of the NHL’s regular season, the Dallas Stars will play their season opener after a COVID-19 outbreak shut the organization down for a few weeks.
Will the late start and disruption help or hurt the Western Conference champions as they look to build on an impressive performance in the bubble?
Nashville is dealing with its own pandemic-related disruption, as the Predators’ game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday was postponed due to an outbreak of cases on the Hurricanes. The Predators played the Hurricanes on Monday, but to this point there has been no known team-to-team transmission.
Nashville has opened its season with two wins in three games as it looks to rebound from a relatively disappointing 2019-20 season. The Predators made the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 and won their division in 2018 and 2019 before being eliminated in last season’s postseason qualifying round.
One of the main reasons for Nashville’s fall down the standings last year was goaltending. Pekka Rinne might be the all-time face of the Predators’ franchise, but he was not good last year, posting a -21.37 goals saved above expectation in 36 starts. Juuse Saros began taking over the starting goalie job as the season wore on and was one of the better goalies in the league the second half of the season.
To begin this year, it appears obvious that Saros is the guy. He started the team’s first two games, winning both and stopping 71 of 74 shots. I expect Saros to continue to get the majority of starts, and that should return Nashville’s goaltending to a position of strength.
Offensively, the Predators need bounce-back seasons from their big guns. Matt Duchene struggled in his first year in Nashville. Viktor Arvidsson’s goal-scoring production was cut in half compared to his previous three seasons. Filip Forsberg had a pedestrian season.
In the Predators’ first three games, Forsberg has scored three goals. Arvidsson and Duchene have gotten on the scoresheet multiple times. If they continue their solid start, Nashville’s forwards have enough talent to make some noise.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride for the Dallas Stars. They lost star goaltender Ben Bishop to injury at the start of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoff. Despite the huge loss, Dallas made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Since the postseason ended, it’s been reported that Bishop will miss most of the season with an injury. In addition to Bishop, the Stars will be without Tyler Seguin, their most talented skater, for a large portion of the season.
As if the injury news wasn’t bad enough, the Stars had 17 players test positive for COVID-19, forcing a pause in their training camp and a delay to the start of their season.
Once you sort through all of that, you can get back to hockey and what the Stars will look like in 2021. Despite being one of the final two teams standing just four months ago, there’s questions about this Stars team.
Dallas was the second worst team in the league last year at goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. While the Stars were a good team that did a good job of driving play, their offense left a lot to be desired. It’s hard not to see the loss of Seguin being a considerable detriment to the Stars’ season.
Anton Khudobin carried the Stars through the playoffs in the bubble, but questions will arise with the absence of Bishop. Khudobin has been one of the better backup goalies in the sport over the past few seasons, but at the age of 34, can he handle a starter’s workload?
Predators vs. Stars Best Bet
Going into the season, I was high on Nashville and low on Dallas relative to expectations. I don’t think Dallas is an elite team despite making the Stanley Cup Final last season.
Nashville has played well early in this season, outplaying its opponents in two of the first three games. Saros has been magnificent to start the season. As long as he gets the majority of the workload, I expect the Predators to continue to have success.
Seguin and Bishop are two huge losses for the Stars, and with the positive COVID-19 tests and prolonged layoff, it’s impossible to predict what kind of shape the Stars’ roster is going to be in heading into their first game of the season.
The Predators have already played three games. They have their legs and they’re in game shape. Even without that benefit, I think they are the better team and I’ll pick them to win this game.
The Bet: Nashville Predators -110 (up to -115)