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Stanley Cup Game 2 Odds, Picks and Predictions: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars NHL Preview (Monday, Sept. 21)

Stanley Cup Game 2 Odds, Picks and Predictions: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars NHL Preview (Monday, Sept. 21) article feature image

Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Khudobin

  • The Lightning are favored over the Stars in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
  • Dallas took Game 1 behind another stellar performance from goalie Anton Khudobin.
  • Michael Leboff breaks down the game and his thresholds for where to bet each team.

Stanley Cup Game 2: Lightning vs. Stars Odds

Stars Odds +123 [BET NOW]
Lightning Odds -143 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5 (-137/+114) [BET NOW]
Time Monday, 8 p.m. ET

Odds updated as of Sunday night 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.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Islanders in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, it felt like a foregone conclusion that this group was finally going to get over the hump and lift the Stanley Cup. Tampa was terrific in the regular season, dominant in the postseason and, perhaps most encouraging, this team was getting positive results in tough, tight contests.

It was hard to blame anybody for getting caught up in the Lightning hype, but the bells and whistles surrounding them distracted a lot of people from appreciating the Dallas Stars.

By now, we should have known better than to start tapping out the Stars, no matter who they were playing. Tampa Bay may be the best team in the NHL, but Dallas had already disposed of two other heavyweights, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, to earn its trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

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 Stars may not play an exciting brand of hockey, and they don’t have the high-end talent that the Lightning boast. But Dallas has mastered the art of winning ugly.

The Stars’ best trait is that they are hard to beat. They neutralize speed, prevent odd-man rushes and keep teams out of the high-danger scoring areas as well as any team in the NHL. All the talent in the world won’t help you if you can’t create scoring opportunities.

Then, Tampa 5v5 offence. As I mentioned this morning, they’re extremely good at “thinning” the zone, getting inside if not particularly close. The Stars are very good at not allowing shots from where Tampa loves to shoot. The most important tactical aspect of the series imo.

— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) September 18, 2020

What We Saw in Game 1

The Stars upset the odds as +135 underdogs with a 4-1 victory in Game 1. It was a quintessential performance from Rick Bowness’ team. Dallas tallied just 37 shot attempts at even strength, but eight of them went down as high-danger scoring chances.

Tampa Bay, on the other hand, recorded 62 attempts at the net and got 36 shots on goal, but only seven of those went down as high-danger chances. The Lightning had the majority of the possession, but the Stars made the most of their time with the puck.

Tampa Bay did win the expected goals battle, 2.06 to 1.46, at even strength, but its volume played a big part in that edge. This game was close enough that it was going to come down to the goalies, and Anton Khudobin answered call once again for Dallas.

[Check out our updated NHL odds page to shop for the best number.]

Game 2 Betting Analysis

I thought that the Stars would close above +140 for Game 1 but was wrong. My line of thinking was that Dallas was priced in the +150 range against Vegas. So I thought the Stars would be bet towards that number against the Lightning, who are better than the Golden Knights. Now I wonder if we’ll see the market move towards Dallas.

DraftKings currently has the Lightning as -143 favorites for Game 2. That implies Tampa Bay has a 58.9% chance of winning on Monday night. I still think that number is a little high, though if it gets cheaper, I’ll have no choice but to make a rare bet on a favorite in the NHL.

If I can get the Bolts below -140, I’d jump in on them. But if money comes in on Tampa Bay — which would not be surprising at all — and pushes Dallas to +140, I’d make a bet on the underdog instead.

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