It says a lot about how great the Dallas Stars are when online sportsbooks have them lined at a pick’em price to beat the Nashville Predators despite potentially being rusty due to coronavirus lockdowns.
The Stars will also be without starting goaltender Ben Bishop and star winger Tyler Seguin, both recovering from surgeries while the Predators are seeing some hot goaltending from Juuse Saros. It’s a wonder why Nashville isn’t the favorite per NHL odds.
But even with Nashville having played more meaningful hockey, the Stars have the higher ceiling having just come from the Stanley Cup Finals. Still, I favor the Preds’ experienced legs over a well-rested Stars team.
Predators vs Stars
Predators: Saros Saves the Day
In Saros, the Preds have a luxury many NHL teams can’t afford: a safety net in the form of a great netminder. Although he’s played two games, Saros has been fantastic for the Predators backstopping them to wins with his 95.9 save percent. He’s stopped 71 of the 74 shots he’s faced.
Saros’s spectacular play has allowed the Predators to take a few more liberties to mixed results. The Preds are near the median in the NHL in 5-on-5 metrics including corsi for percent (15th), shots for percent (17th), and scoring chances for percent (18th).
On the special teams, it’s night and day for the Preds. Their penalty kill is among the best at 87.5% but their power play is struggling at just 9.09%. They’ll need to improve on their PP as goal-scoring comes by committee in this team of no stars.
Nashville plays solid defense and has Saros in net. But the game is won by scoring. The Preds need more from the likes of C Ryan Johansen (one goal, +1) and Norris winner D Roman Josi (1 assist) if they want to be anything more than pedestrian.
Stars: Late to the Party
A late start can be both good or bad for the Stars. On one hand, they have gotten more rest than the other teams On the other hand, their peers have started to acclimatize to the new season.
Dallas also did not get the benefit of being able to practice fully due to the restrictions on their facilities. This means they’ll have to hit the ground running. Fortunately, with a loaded roster from their top line to the top-six defenseman, Dallas can make up for it.
The Stars were one of the best defensive teams in the NHL last season. They only allowed 2.52 goals per game (2nd). This was primarily due to strong goaltending from Bishop and Anton Khudobin. But also due to limiting their opponents’ scoring chances despite giving up shots on goal.
The absence of Seguin, their leading scorer last season, will hurt. Especially since they only finished 26th in the league in goals per game and 13th on the PP. They may be rusty, but the strong play in net and on their own zone will keep them in any game.
Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars Betting Preview: Will There Even Be Scoring?
The pick’em odds here per BetUS sportsbook and most NHL odds are mainly because it’s hard to call how the Stars will look when they haven’t played since Stanley Cup Finals this summer. The Predators are not exactly a Cup contender themselves.
On paper, the Stars should win this match. If it weren’t for the COVID restrictions and this late start predicament they’re in, they’d be easy favorites here. But Dallas’s offense hasn’t been that spectacular last season. And with no game time to get things heated, it may be worse here. They’ll also go up against one of the hottest netminders in Saros.
Nashville should win this game. This is their game to lose. But with that said, the Predators have also been known to struggle scoring and Dallas is also strong on the back end and in net.
I can’t be confident picking either side, but for my NHL pick, I’ll give Nashville the edge as they’ve had game experience and will have more chemistry. Also consider betting the under +5.5 goals here.