The Colorado Avalanche didn’t expect to find themselves down 2-0. The Dallas Stars probably didn’t expect to be up 2-0. But, we’ve come to expect the unexpected in 2020 and right now, it is the Avalanche that need to win four out of five over a Stars bunch that seems to be peaking at the right time.
Even still, there aren’t a lot of Stars believers as we head into Game 3 on Wednesday night. Colorado has taken all of the early money and BetDSI Sportsbook has the Avalanche installed as a -140 favorite the night before the game. The total is 5.5, but that could be on the rise as well.
The Stars have gotten better goaltending and have gotten a lot more from their offense through the first two games of the series. Dallas has outscored Colorado 7-2 at even strength. Colorado has 39 scoring chances to Dallas’s 33, but Dallas has had 17 high-danger chances to 16 for the Avs. In other words, Dallas is getting the higher-quality looks and has done an incredible job to keep Colorado from getting to the areas that matter the most.
The Avs lost Philipp Grubauer to injury in Game 1 and Pavel Francouz was forced to step in. Grubauer allowed three goals on 10 shots in before exiting the postseason. Francouz has allowed six goals on 46 shots. For the regular season, Francouz actually outplayed Grubauer. He had a .923 SV% and a 2.41 GAA to go with his 13.06 goals saved above average mark. Grubauer had a .916 SV% with a 2.63 GAA and a 6.48 GSAA.
The difference between Francouz and Grubauer has likely been overvalued in media circles, but some in betting circles may prefer the 29-year-old to the 28-year-old. Francouz did not play well in Game 2, but his body of work during the regular season suggests that he should be just fine.
Somebody who has played well to this point is Anton Khudobin. While Ben Bishop’s ceiling is higher than that of Khudobin’s, the difference between the two has been nominal at best to this point. Khudobin has stopped 66 of 71 shots in the first two games and backstopped his bunch to a 2-0 lead.
Eight different goal scorers have lit the lamp for the Stars. Alexander Radulov has three goals and the rest of them have one goal each. The most amazing thing about this series for the Stars is how they’ve cashed in their chances 5-v-5. Only the Detroit Red Wings scored fewer goals 5-v-5 than the Stars during the regular season, but Dallas has found an offensive resurgence in the playoffs. They scored 14 goals 5-v-5 in the series against Calgary.
The Stars have played really well through their two series. Maybe they simply found something that works. They outchanced Calgary 137-100 at 5-v-5 in the first round and had a 53-37 edge in high-danger chances. The fact that they’ve played with Colorado is a testament to how much their offense has suddenly improved.
Dallas has already scored five high-danger goals in the series. That’s as many as they had in six games against Calgary. Colorado needs to figure things out and do so in a hurry. Their top players have shown up in Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen to combine for 11 points in the series and all five of Colorado’s goals, but the depth forwards and the defensemen are getting torched.
The concerning thing for Colorado is that they had the last change in the first two games, got the matchups that they wanted, and their bottom six forwards still buried them. How will they hide them in these two games when Dallas has the last change?
We’ll have to wait and see, but the line move is probably right here on Colorado. This is a circle the wagons game. They’ll have to step it up and play better. They were up 2-0 in Game and gave up two power play goals and then fell apart even further as the period went along. They’ll likely show more resilience here in Game 3.
Pick: Colorado Avalanche (-140)