NHL Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Avalanche vs. Stars Game 6 (Wednesday, Sept. 2)
Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Hutchinson
- The Dallas Stars look to close out their series against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET in Edmonton.
- The Avalanche are the favorite at -124, and Michael Leboff likes their chances for the second straight game with Michael Hutchinson in net.
- Read Leboff's full betting preview for Avalanche vs. Stars Game 6 below.
Game 6: Avalanche vs. Stars Odds
|Avalanche Odds||-124 [BET NOW]|
|Stars Odds||+107 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||6 (-120/(-103) [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
What a weird series. Let’s go all the way back to the beginning to try and make sense of it all.
The Avs Were Overrated
The Colorado Avalanche were heavy favorites to beat the Dallas Stars in Round 2. Colorado had just demolished Arizona in Round 1, winning the final two games of the series by a combined score of 14-2.
Those results had earned the Avs some serious Stanley Cup buzz and who could blame anybody for getting caught up in the hype. The betting market certainly bought into Colorado’s stellar performance as the Avs were bet up to -225 to win this series. Hindsight is 20/20 but that number was too high in a matchup against a good team.
Just because a team is overrated doesn’t mean it isn’t good. The Avalanche, in fact, are great. The problem was that so much attention was being paid to the Avalanche that a lot of pundits, fans and bettors kind of forgot that the Dallas Stars are a strong hockey club.
The Stars Were Underrated
The Dallas Stars were one of the NHL’s best defensive teams in 2019-20. Dallas finished second in the league in goals against per 60 minutes and was tied with the Avalanche for the fifth-best expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.
Dallas couldn’t score for beans, finishing 30th in 5-on-5 goals per hour, but its underlying metrics suggested some positive regression was coming. The Stars are not devoid of talent up front. Alex Radulov, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Joe Pavelski are all first-line caliber players. Denis Gurianov is breaking out now that he’s starting to get consistent ice time. Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg provide firepower from the blueline.
Nobody was saying that Dallas didn’t have a chance against Colorado before this series began, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who was excited to step in front of the Avalanche with this team a week ago.
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.
All Hell Has Broken Loose
If you told me before Game 1 that Dallas would be ahead, 3-2, going into Game 6 I would have guessed that the Stars were able to turn this series into a low-event chess match.
Not so fast.
These two teams are combining for an average of 8.6 total goals per game and every contest in this series has gone over the total. These types of games would normally favor the Avalanche, but they’ve been let down by their goaltenders.
The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered through an up-and-down regular season and journeyman goaltender Michael Hutchinson somehow became the symbol for the Leafs’ turbulent season. Hutchinson was the No. 2 goalie to start the season in Toronto and struggled mightily.
His poor play was a big deal since Frederik Andersen, the team’s starter, never found his form. Hutchinson became the butt of many jokes before he was unceremoniously waived when the Leafs traded for Jack Campbell.
Hutchinson would eventually bring his -6.91 Goals Saved Above Expectation to Colorado as an in-case-of-emergency policy for a club with two reliable goaltenders in Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz.
As fate would have it, Hutchinson would be needed to dress as a backup for the Avalanche in Game 2 after Grubauer injured himself in the opener. Francouz struggled to find his footing in this series and then he, too, got hurt.
With Grubauer and Francouz out, the Avs had no choice but to throw Hutchinson into the cage for his first career playoff start.
Once the news broke, the price on Colorado dropped all the way down to -121. Don’t forget that the Avalanche were -175 in Game 1 of this series.
Odds via DraftKings
Hockey is a weird sport that surprises you at every corner, so it shouldn’t have floored anybody that Hutchinson would come in and backstop Colorado to a win in Game 6. It certainly helped that his team raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first period against Ben Bishop, who was also a surprise starter coming back from an injury to make his series debut, but Hutchinson was quite impressive, ending the game with a +0.66 GSAx.
Will Hutchinson play that well again in Game 6? Probably not. Will he play well enough to give Colorado a chance to win? That’s a different question.
In theory, Hutchinson shouldn’t need to stand on his head to get the Avs over the line. Colorado has a prolific offense and a sturdy defense, so the Avalanche have the tools to make up for some not-so-spectacular goaltending.
Game 6 Betting Analysis
Backing Hutchinson in a playoff game was not something I was ever prepared to do, but here we are. I thought the discount on the Avalanche was far too good to pass up in Game 5 and I think the same is true for Game 6.
Colorado has been the better 5-on-5 team in this series and, should the game stay on script, should control possession in this matchup. The Avalanche have controlled 55.6% of the shot attempts, 51.9% of the high-danger scoring chances and 53.2% of the expected goals through the first five games of this series.
The Stars have a wide goaltending edge in this game, but I’m OK with that because Colorado is a very good defensive team. The Avalanche may have struggled to keep the puck out of the net so far in this series but they are conceding only 1.58 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 through the first five games of this set. If the Avs play up to expectations, they should ease the burden on Hutchinson.
Not only am I betting on Hutchinson for the second game in a row, but I’m betting on him as a favorite. God help us all.
The Pick: Colorado Avalanche -125 or better