Panthers vs. Stars Odds
|Time||Saturday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday evening and via BetMGM.|
The dread crept in, as we’d been here before. Time and again this season the Stars have had an early lead, a middle lead, or a late lead, only to see it fall away and set up a dramatic loss.
This is how they’re sitting outside of the playoff picture, despite having a positive goal differential and an even strength rating in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast. But Dallas may shock you by how good it is. Will the Lightning strike again and steal a win over the Stars in Dallas for the fourth time this season?
Before we focus on the Stars’ strange season and how it frames the price for this matchup, we need to look deeper into what’s going on with the Panthers. They got out to a hot start, racking up points in the standings, but like a few other teams in the NHL, their success wasn’t sustainable based on the predictive metrics.
With a pair of losses in Chicago this past week, the Panthers have lost four of their last five games. No reason to panic in Florida, this is just a matter of misfortune as they regress to the mean.
I have the Panthers’ rate as 3% above average at even-strength, which is actually slightly better of a rating than they were good for when they were winning three-quarters of their games throughout the first half of the season.
The Panthers haven’t been playing poorly in their recent games, averaging an eyelash shy of 2 Expected Goals For at even strength, while holding their opponents to just 1.67 Expected Goals. They should be winning more than they lose based on those numbers. By comparison, during their previous stretch where they won seven out of eight games, they averaged 2.02 XGF and 1.69 XGA. Not exactly a massive change in their play.
This losing stretch can be easily explained away by their opponents converting their High-Danger Chances at an usually high rate, scoring seven times in 41 HDCs. Just look at Thursday’s game in Chicago where the Panthers created a respectable nine even-strength High-Danger Chances while only allowing three. They weren’t able to convert on any of those chances, while the Blackhawks took advantage of one of theirs, which was enough to earn the victory.
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 know that story well. Their season has been a replay over and over of just that type of circumstance. On Thursday though, they may have turned a corner in the puck luck department.
First it was Jake Oettinger keeping Dallas in the game, making an incredible stick save when they were down 2-1 despite being the much better team on this night. The Stars doubled the Lightning’s shots despite the deficit and finally took a 3-2 lead with two goals at the end of the second period.
However, the same old Stars seemed to rear their ugly heads when the Lightning scored towards the end of regulation. It felt like the game was headed to the coin flip of 3-on-3 overtime, and perhaps the shoutout, until the Stars put together three of the best passes you’ll see on a breakout, springing Roopie Hintz on a breakaway that he buried for the eventual game-winner. The Stars finished the game with 20 High-Danger Chances, a season-high for them this season, so they were more than deserved winners.
As much as the Panthers’ play has gotten better in recent weeks, even if it hasn’t translated to wins lately, the Stars have been living that life all season. With 247 High-Danger Chances 5-on-5 to their opponents’ 194, and an average of 53.8% of the even-strength Expected Goals in their games, the Stars are 11.8% above-average at even strength in my model — slightly better than the two top dogs in the Central Division, the Hurricanes and Lightning.
Having made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last year, the Stars aren’t a team that is likely to pack it in after a little adversity. With the Blackhawks and Panthers in their sights this is an important game for them to try to continue to gain ground with a handful of games in hand.
Betting Analysis & Pick
There might be a point of the season where the Stars just run out of gas, given that their schedule has gotten even more compressed with a late start and a hiatus due to the weather-induced power outages a few weeks ago. However, until that happens there’s going to be some value backing a team that should be combining their capabilities as one of the best teams in the division with the requisite desperation that winning hockey requires.
Combine that with a market price that will undervalue them based on the standings, and this won’t be the last time we find value in the Stars. My model makes them 52.8% favorites in this game, making their pick’em price much more reasonable than the Panthers side of the -110 split.
Pick: Stars (-115 or better)