NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Panthers vs. Stars (Jan. 6)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images. Pictured: Eetu Luostarinen and Ryan Lomberg
- The Panthers have been hot since the restart, while Dallas is playing its first game since before Christmas.
- Florida is understandably favored in this case, but is there still value on the Panthers?
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting prediction.
Panthers vs. Stars Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Florida Panthers hit the road on Thursday for the start of a short two-game road trip to take on the Dallas Stars.
Florida enters the matchup as one of the top teams in the league with a record of 22-7-4, good enough for second in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Dallas hasn't seen that level of success and currently sits in sixth in the Central Division with a record of 15-12-2.
COVID has postponed many games over the last few weeks, and this will be the Stars' first game since December 20th. Will we see them come out with some rust, or can the Stars remain competitive with one of the best teams in the league even after a long layoff?
Panthers Red-Hot Since Restart
Florida had four of its games postponed due to COVID, and still has some players, such as Sam Reinhart, who were recently added to the COVID list. However, since resuming play on December 29th, the Panthers have picked up right where they left off.
Florida has yet to lose a game since the restart, going 4-0 and scoring a total of 24 goals while surrendering just 10. The Panthers have played some good teams during that stretch as well, including the Lightning, Rangers and Flames, so their recent schedule has by no means been easy.
As a result of their play, the Panthers now find themselves at the top of the league in several offensive categories. As a team, they are averaging 3.04 Expected Goals For per 60 minutes (xGF/60) in 5-on-5 according to Natural Stat Trick, and they are tied with Vegas for the most goals scored in 5-on-5 situations with 89.
From a defensive standpoint, Florida hasn't been bad. However, nothing about its play on that end of the ice jumps off the page. In 5-on-5, the Panthers rank 15th in the NHL in total goals allowed, 16th in Expected Goals Against per 60 minutes (xGA/60), and 20th in High-Danger Chances Against per 60 minutes (HDCA/60), all of which show they are a middle-of-the-road defense.
Luckily for Florida, Sergei Bobrovsky has been great in net and will likely get the start in this one. Bobrovsky has been one of the best in the business in net this season, entering this matchup with an SV % of .929 and 8.8 Goals Saved Above Expected in 5-on-5.
Stars Look to Knock Off Rust
The Dallas Stars have not played a game in well over two weeks, so this is their first opportunity to knock off some rust and get back into the swing of things.
Prior to the NHL suspending play, Dallas put together a nice two-game winning streak in which it scored 11 total goals. However, prior to those two wins, the Stars went on a five-game losing streak and were outscored 19-7 by their opponents, which has been a little more indicative of how their season has gone so far.
A major issue for this squad has been their lackluster scoring attack, which is obviously going to present some challenges on a nightly basis. In 5-on-5 situations, Dallas has scored just 46 total goals and is averaging just 1.97 goals per 60 minutes, both of which rank in the bottom-six in the NHL.
In their last seven games, the Stars have scored as many as seven goals, but have been held to one goal or fewer in four of those seven games. It's been tough to predict which Stars team we will see on any given night.
Braden Holtby, who has lost his last three starts, is expected to get the start for Dallas. In 5-on-5 this season he has an SV % of .925 and -0.4 Goals Saved Above Expected.
Panthers vs. Stars Pick
The Stars managed to get out of a hole and found a rhythm once again before the holidays, but not playing for two weeks certainly draws some concerns.
I believe it is likely they enter this matchup with some rust, which is bad news for a team that already struggles to score the puck and will likely have to find a way to get pucks past Bobrovsky, which is no easy task.
The Panthers have been as dominant as it gets recently, and have done so against some of the top teams in the NHL. I could see them winning this game by multiple goals, but the odds on the moneyline present good value.
Pick: Florida Panthers ML (-120) | Play to -130