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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Stars vs. Canadiens (March 17)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Stars vs. Canadiens (March 17) article feature image
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Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Pavelski.

  • The Canadiens host the Stars as home underdogs on Thursday night.
  • The Stars have been slumping lately, but is there value in buying low on them?
  • NHL betting analyst Greg Liodice breaks down Thursday's matchup and shares his best bet below.

Stars vs. Canadiens Odds

Stars Odds -205
Canadiens Odds +175
Over/Under 6 (-110/-110)
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Dallas Stars face the Montreal Canadiens in Quebec on Thursday night. It’ll be the final time both teams square off as the Canadiens were victorious in the first bout 5-3 in Dallas. The Stars come in as the heavy favorites at -205 while the hometown Habs are the underdogs at +175.

Dallas has not had it easy, and it’s not the best time to struggle. The Stars are in the middle of a three-game losing streak, including a shutout against the Maple Leafs

Despite placing last in the league, the Habs are playing their best hockey all season. In their last 10 games, Montreal is 6-3-1 including a disappointing loss to the Coyotes on Tuesday. They also are coming off trading one of their top defensemen in Ben Chiarot, so the Habs will be shorthanded.

Stars Look to Bounce Back

Ever since losing in the Cup Finals two years ago, the Stars have lacked direction but have a ton of talent. This year, they’re getting top notch quality from Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson (who are averaging over a point per game) as well as Roope Hintz. They will be without their top defenseman, Miro Heiskanen, as he’s been ruled out indefinitely with mononucleosis.

The Stars do a fine job on the offensive end. Dallas currently scores 2.88 goals per game, is ranked toward the middle in Expected Goals with a 51.02 xGF%, and creates a good amount of High Danger Chances. Not only that, but their Power Play has been exceptional, scoring at a 23.4% clip.

Even though they’re missing Heiskanen, Dallas has a solid foundation on the blue line. They do a good job at keeping the puck out of the net (2.93 GA/G), and are a top-10 team in allowing High Danger Chances. They’re a pretty average team when down a man, with a 78.4% success rate on the Penalty Kill. 

After Braden Holtby began as the top netminder in the beginning of the season, it seems Jake Oettinger has taken over the reins. Oettinger is coming into his own, playing superb with a .918 SV% and a +5.2 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected).

The former Cup winning veteran, Holtby is having a good season as well with a .913 SV% and a +0.7 GSAx. Holtby hasn’t seen the ice for over a week due to an injury, but if he suits up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start.


Canadiens Surging Under St. Louis

Ever since hiring coach Martin St. Louis, the Habs have been on a tear, going 9-5-1, and most likely will play spoiler against a lot of teams this season. There’s a good foundation in Montreal with talented guys like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Josh Anderson, and Mike Hoffman.

On the injury front, they have been hammered, but most players are close to returning, including Artturi Lehkonen, Jonathan Drouin, Jake Allen and Christian Dvorak.

Montreal has done a wonderful job at creating offense since the new hire. While they’re still last in GPG (2.47), that number was much lower before. The Habs have also gotten much better at driving play, as their Expected Goals are 28th with a 45.45 xGF%, whereas before the hire, they were bottom two. The Power Play isn’t great still, as they’re second to last, scoring at a 13.3% clip. 

On the defensive side, it still needs to be better, and trading Chiarot surely won’t help in this bout. They allow the most goals per game (3.82), and are ranked 25th in High Danger Chances Allowed. The Penalty Kill is also among one of the worst, with a 73.8% success rate.

With Carey Price being out all season, the goaltending situation has been up in the air. Jake Allen has done a fine job, and he’ll be returning from injury tonight according to Nick Alberga of Sportnet. The veteran has been out since early January, and hasn’t played under coach St. Louis. Before the injury, he was playing well (given the situation he was in), with a .901 SV% and a -5.1 GSAx.

Stars vs. Canadiens Pick

Both teams are in complete opposite situations. Montreal has nothing to lose but is playing its best hockey, while Dallas is playing for its season every game and has struggled mightily recently.

The Habs have been one of hockey’s most exciting teams to watch as of late, and I can see them netting a few pucks. 

Dallas will be coming in with something to prove. Three straight losses, including two blowouts, from a team in a playoff push is definitely not ideal. They’ll be facing a rusty Jake Allen and a shorthanded D-corps, so I’ll expect a few goals from their end as well.

I think this game has over six goals written all over it.

Pick: Over 6 (-110)

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