NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Avalanche vs Stars (Saturday, November 18)
Pictured: Jason Robertson. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)
Avalanche vs. Stars Odds
Dallas and Colorado rank first and second, respectively, in the Central Division and figure to be serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. They'll face each other Saturday, so let's preview that exciting contest and offer an Avalanche vs. Stars prediction.
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Colorado went through a rough stretch from Oct. 26-Nov. 11, during which the Avalanche won just two of seven contests. But, Colorado outscored the competition 13-3 over its past two games, so it's safe to say the slump is over.
Alexandar Georgiev's play was the most troubling part of the slump — he posted a 5.04 GAA and an .832 save percentage in five contests during it — but he was in net for the Avalanche's latest two wins. At the same time, he was only made to face 36 shots over his past two starts, so while the netminder did his part, most of the credit goes to the guys in front of him. Dallas, which ranks 11th offensively with 3.40 goals per game, will likely prove to be a bigger test for Georgiev to see if his struggles are truly behind him.
With the way Colorado's offense has performed lately, Georgiev might not even need to have a great game. Nathan MacKinnon is on a five-game scoring streak in which he's contributed an incredible 11 points (two goals). Defenseman Cale Makar is on quite the roll too, supplying a goal and 10 points over his past five outings. Mikko Rantanen hasn't been quite as hot recently, but he's a consistent threat with 10 goals and 21 points through 15 games.
Those three power the Avalanche's attack, but Colorado also has depth with Valeri Nichushkin, Ross Colton and Ryan Johansen each joining Rantanen and MacKinnon in supplying at least five goals thus far. There's a reason this group has already scored at least five goals in six different games this year. When the Avalanche are at their best, there's almost no stopping them.
Almost. But if anyone can handle a hot Avalanche offense, wouldn't it be Jake Oettinger? The Stars' goaltender is one of the league's best and is off to a great start this season with an 8-2-1 record, a 2.26 GAA and a .926 save percentage. What's been most impressive is his consistency — he hasn't allowed more than three goals in a single contest this year.
Oettinger has traditionally been strong against the Avalanche too, posting a 3-1-1 record, a 2.04 GAA and a .944 save percentage in five career contests.
So there is reason for cautious optimism that Dallas' goaltending won't collapse against the Avalanche, and if that proves to be true, then Dallas' attack can carry things the rest of the way. As already noted, Georgiev is potentially vulnerable, and Dallas has the capacity to test that.
No star in Dallas shines as bright as Colorado's Rantanen, MacKinnon or Makar — any of which would be the team's scoring leader if they played for the Stars — but Dallas has the edge in scoring depth. The Avalanche have four players with double-digit point totals, but the Stars have eight.
They're so deep that it's hard to know which is Dallas' third line. Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski is the obvious top unit, but after that is it the combo of Matt Duchene (13 points) and Tyler Seguin (10)? Or Jamie Benn (11) and Wyatt Johnston (13)? It's a good situation to be in and one that allows Dallas to almost always have a serious scoring threat on the ice.
Avalanche vs. Stars
Betting Pick & Prediction
Dallas is treated as a slight favorite on the moneyline and the potential return (-125) is reasonable. I like the Stars' chances in this one.
Colorado's offense has been strong recently, but the Avalanche have also been rather inconsistent, especially with regards to goaltending. Meanwhile, Dallas has been much steadier.
Combined with the advantage afforded to the Stars as the home squad, I feel comfortable recommending them on the moneyline.