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Flames vs. Stars Odds & Pick: Dallas Undervalued In Game 3

Flames vs. Stars Odds & Pick: Dallas Undervalued In Game 3 article feature image

Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images. Pictured: The Dallas Stars celebrate

  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down Game 3 of the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames NHL first-round playoff series.
  • Find his analysis of the betting odds and his pick on the moneyline below.

Flames vs. Stars Game 3 Odds

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Stars Odds -109 [BET NOW]
Flames Odds -107 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5 (-141/+115) [BET NOW]
Time 10:30 p.m. ET

Odds as of Friday at 7:15 a.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Dallas Stars did it the hard way, but they evened their series with the Flames in Game 2. There’s a quick turnaround as Game 3 takes place about 21 hours after the conclusion of Game 2.

Looking at the numbers and statistics for Game 2 does not do it justice simply because they can’t expand on the mental roller coaster both teams went through. Does Dallas still feel the negative effects of blowing a two-goal lead in the third period even though it eventually won the game late? Can Calgary take solace in its comeback even though it was for naught?

There’s no time for reflection as the teams need to shift their focus to an important Game 3.

Dallas Stars

Dallas did control play at a much better clip in Game 2 than it did in Game 1. The Stars out-attempted Calgary (41-35), had six of 10 high-danger chances and won the expected goal battle 1.49 to 1.25.

The Stars’ top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov stepped up and led by example in Game 2. They had 69% of shot attempts and 64.4% of the expected goals in the time they were on the ice together.

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 second line of Mattias Janmark, Joe Pavelski and Denis Gurianov didn’t have the quantity of chances the first line did, but it allowed absolutely nothing to the Flames when on the ice.

Dallas allowing four goals in a game is not its team identity. The Stars allowed an expected 2.12 goals against per 60 minutes during the regular season which was good for seventh best in the league. In Game 2, they gave up only 1.25 expected goals against in 47 minutes, lower than their seasons average. C

Chalk this one up to Ben Bishop having a rare off night.

Speaking of Bishop, there’s a good chance he will be on the bench in Game 3. Bishop was deemed to be “unfit to play” for Game 1 of this series. If he is battling something, even if it’s minor, there’s no reason for Dallas to start him on back-to-back nights.

Anton Khudobin is one of the best backup goalies in the league and the team doesn’t lose much, if anything, when he plays.

Calgary Flames

Calgary has to quickly get over the final 10 minutes of Game 2. Down by two goals, the Flames stormed back to tie the game thanks to a shorthanded goal from Tobias Rieder and a deflection from Sam Bennett.

Just as the game seemed destined for overtime, the Flames lost coverage on Jamie Oleksiak, who had jumped in from the blue line at the back post to score. With only 40 seconds left, there wasn’t enough time for Calgary to recover again.

Calgary was a middling team throughout the season, though it did show improvement after changing coaches in late November. It ousted the Winnipeg Jets relatively easily and in Game 1, outperformed the Stars.

In Game 2, we saw a bit more of what most expected in this series. Dallas did control more of the play but Calgary kept the game close. Calgary has slightly more offensive talent than Dallas, which can be the great equalizer in a series that isn’t expected to be littered with scoring.

Calgary needs more from its top line if it wants to win this series. Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau make up the top unit, but when on the ice together in Game 2, they didn’t register a single shot attempt.

Coach Geoff Ward did mix up the lines throughout the game, putting Sam Bennett on the wing with Monahan and Gaudreau for a few shifts. That line held its own and broke even in terms of possession. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a permanent change or if it was a one-time shakeup to get a spark going.

The lines will potentially need to change either way because Matthew Tkachuk’s status is in question for Game 3. Tkachuk played only 10:53 in Game 2 after an awkward jab from Jamie Oleksiak caused him pain in the rib/mid-section area. Ward didn’t have an update postgame.

Speaking of decisions, Ward will have to make a decision in net. Cam Talbot has started all six games for Calgary thus far, but he did get lit up for five goals in Game 2. When faced with a similar choice in the qualifying round, Ward went back-to-back games with Cam Talbot, opting to leave David Rittich on the bench.

Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) is an advanced statistic that measures a goaltender’s performance against the quality of scoring chances he faced. It is a better catch-all metric compared to save percentage because every SV% counts every saved shot and goal the same, while GSAx weights shots by the quality of the scoring chance. GSAx numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

During the regular season Rittich was a below-average goalie, with a -10.43 goals saved above expectation. Goalies perform worse in the second half of back-to-back games traditionally, so it really is an interesting decision.

Betting Analysis

Dallas has been undervalued in the first two games of this series and is again in Game 3.

Dallas finally played a better game where it controlled the play and out-chanced the opponent.

The Stars aren’t seen as one of the elite teams in the West like Colorado or Vegas, but truth be told, they aren’t far from that level.

Calgary is potentially dealing with an injury to a top six forward in Tkachuk. It also has to make the decision of either starting a tired goalie who got beat five times the night before or starting a guy who was decidedly below average throughout the season.

The effects of home-ice advantage are severely muted in the bubble with no crowds, so there’s no reason for that to affect this line. It’s not like the Flames have an elite shutdown line they can use to match up against Dallas.

Dallas was the better team throughout the season compared to Calgary and will have an advantage in goal, no matter what combination of the four goalies are on the ice. On the other hand, Calgary just had its heart shattered with 40 seconds left in Game 2.

I think there is value with the Stars and am willing to bet them up to -115.

The pick: Dallas (-109) [Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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