Stars vs. Lightning NHL Odds & Picks: Does Dallas Have Value Pushing for Playoffs? (May 7)

Stars vs. Lightning NHL Odds & Picks: Does Dallas Have Value Pushing for Playoffs? (May 7) article feature image

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Tyler Seguin celebrates.

  • With only three games remaining for both teams, Dallas is badly in need of two points to get closer to Nashville for fourth place in the Central Division.
  • Tampa has but a slim shot of winning the division and appear destined to play in-state rival Florida in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Matt Russell is backing Dallas to keep those playoff hopes alive before heading to Chicago on Sunday.

Stars vs. Lightning Odds

Stars Odds+135
Lightning Odds-155
Time | TVFriday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday night and via BetMGM.

In developing news, I live in a Peloton household now. Like getting a vaccination shot, it doesn’t count unless you talk about it on social media. While we’re as late to the party as those just getting around to watching Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive To Survive, it needed to be mentioned.

The reason being is that I now am frequently asked the question “How much do you have left?” On Friday, it's the Dallas Stars who will be asking themselves that question.

Dallas Stars

After a 10-5 stretch got the Stars within reach of the final playoff spot in the Central Division, their comet has since burned out. Five-straight losses have left them with nothing more than an outside chance to keep their season alive.

Two of those five losses have come on the road at the hands of the Lightning. It's an unsurprising result, considering the Bolts are 6-1 against the team they beat in order to claim the Stanley Cup last year. 

Dallas has done the opposite of getting revenge, but it hasn’t been from a lack of trying, or even on-ice success. In fact, the Stars have actually accumulated more even-strength Expected Goals in the seven games, with 10.51 to 9.59 for the Lightning.

That’s been the story of the season for the Stars, as they actually have the third-best rating in the Central, according to my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast. That they haven’t gotten more points out of evenly played games with the Lightning is one of two reasons the Stars are likely going to miss the playoffs. The other is an incredibly poor overtime record that has given the ‘third point’ to divisional foes too many times. 

Overtime wasn’t on the menu on Wednesday, but that’s only because the Stars ate it in the third period of another close game. Brayden Point scored to stretch the Lightning lead to 3-1 with 14 seconds left in the second period, and after getting back within one, the Stars gave up another goal just 50 seconds later, followed by a pair of empty-net goals that made the score look a lot worse than it actually was.

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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 and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Tampa Bay Lightning

With three games to go in the regular season, it’s debatable on how much the Lightning have left to play for. Six points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place, it would appear that ship has sailed away in gale force winds. So what’s left is a two-part duel with the in-state rival Florida Panthers this weekend, which will decide who gets home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. 

Truthfully, the two points available in this game, aren’t nearly as valuable as they are on Saturday in Sunrise. Even if the Bolts beat the Stars, a loss on Saturday puts them right back in the same spot they’re in now – tied with the Panthers. However, a loss on Friday and a win on Saturday gives the Lightning a two-point lead over the Panthers with the tiebreaker and a subsequent meaningless matchup in the season’s finale. 

All this adds up to a possible appearance from Curtis McElhinney against the Stars, which admittedly hasn’t been the boon to opponents’ chances it was earlier this season. The Lightning’s backup has given up just one goal in his last two starts.

Even still, his numbers are quite dicey this season with a -7.74 Goals Saved Above Average in just 11 games. If I was running operations over at Amalie Arena (which for the record, I am not), I would be saving Andrei Vasilevskiy for Saturday, as there’s no reason he should be playing in back-to-back games this close to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

How much do the Stars have left? Sitting four points behind the Nashville Predators, the one good piece of news is their final two games are against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks who my model has rated as the worst team in the division. With a good chance at four points there, they just need to get these two points in Tampa to put pressure on the Predators who have a pair of games left with division-leading Carolina. 

The Stars should still have a modicum of belief left, and while I’d prefer them giving another start to Jake Oettinger, I’m still willing to back them with Anton Khudobin in the crease just so long as we get anyone but Vasilevskiy in net for Tampa.

Fundamentally, my model sets a true moneyline of TB -125/DAL +125, so I’d hope for a +145 price with the Stars. Which is a possibility should the market fall into the trap that Wednesday’s 6-2 score might create. If you can beat the market to a similar price and catch the Lightning’s MVP with a night off, I’d pull that trigger and hope the Stars will have one last twinkle. 

Pick: Stars ML (+145 or better, if Vasilevskiy starts, +125 or better if he sits)

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