Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars: Round 2, Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars NHL Playoffs Round 2
Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars, Western Conference Semifinals

The Dallas Stars returned to their high-scoring from at the right time as they shocked the Colorado Avalanche in overtime of Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Joel Kiviranta scored a hat trick, including the game-tying goal 10 seconds after Colorado took the lead in the third period and the game-winner almost seven and a half minutes into overtime. The Avalanche’s defense again was a culprit as they let three one-goal leads slip away in regulation to let the game head into overtime.

Dallas Stars win 4-3

The Colorado Avalanche looked unstoppable entering the series, but in reality, they just had never been challenged in the first round or the round robin. The Dallas Stars tested Colorado’s defense and the Avalanche could not handle the shot totals being directed on their goal. It would be easy to blame the loss for Colorado on Philipp Grubauer’s injury, but Pavel Francouz was clearly not able to handle the starter’s workload in the playoffs and it cost Colorado. Meanwhile, Dallas enters the Western Conference Finals full of confidence having re-discovered its offense more consistently, though its defense is still something it will need to fix if the Stars have hopes of winning the Stanley Cup.

Game 1

August 22nd, 8 p.m., Rogers Place

The Dallas Stars won all four regular-season meetings against the Colorado Avalanche, but that was the pre-pandemic version of the team. In eight games in the Edmonton bubble, the Avalanche have been the best team by a long way, just suffocating and dominating teams. They are averaging 37.3 shots and 3.9 goals per game in the bubble while surrendering just 1.6 goals on 24.1 shots per game. The Stars struggled to score until they ran into Calgary in the first round, but even then they alternated having explosive scoring games with low-scoring affairs. Dallas scored 21 goals against the Flames, but 17 of those came in the even-numbered games in the series.

No team was as dialed in during the first round of the playoffs as the Avalanche. Colorado was ready from the moment the puck dropped in Game 1 against Arizona, but Darcy Keumper stood on his head for the first 53 minutes of the game. Once the first goal went in, though, they came like a tidal wave and the Coyotes could do nothing to stop it. The Avalanche probably should have pitched shutouts in the final two games, but surrendered a goal against the run of play in both contests. The Coyotes were limited to fewer than 20 shots in two of the five games and only surpassed 25 shots once in the series.

Dallas was probably an underdog heading into its series with Calgary because we weren’t sure if the Stars could score enough to win. We forgot to take into account the poor Flames defense, which certainly aided in allowing the Stars to break out of their shell. Dallas showed a lot of determination and courage in overcoming three goals in the first seven minutes of Game 6 to storm back to win 7-3. Yet the issue Dallas needs to solve against Colorado is how to defend better so that the Avalanche don’t carve them up with their offensive skill. For as well as Dallas played defensively to limit Calgary’s chances, the Flames still scored on a fair amount of their opportunities when they arose.

The Stars deserve a lot of credit for raising their level and beating the Flames in the first round, but Dallas will need to work twice as hard to keep Colorado off the scoreboard. The Avalanche are just a machine right now from Philipp Grubauer in goal to Nathan MacKinnon and the star-studded forward group. If Colorado has a weak link, no one has been able to find it just yet in these playoffs. The Avalanche won the first bubble matchup with the Stars 4-0, and that seems like the path this series is headed. I don’t think Colorado will sweep Dallas, but I’m really tempted to take the wager at +127 odds that this series doesn’t last six games or Colorado to win in five games for +395 odds. Instead, I’ll just settle on Colorado to win the series at -195 odds on Colorado to win the series at -195 odds from the NHL betting sites in New Jersey.

The first game of this series will be fascinating because the Avalanche could easily overwhelm the Stars early and just cruise to an easy win. Colorado is playing at such a high level that I’m not sure the Dallas defense can handle the pressure the Avalanche are going to apply shift after shift. Dallas goalies only had a .908 save percentage in the first round against Calgary, which just won’t be good enough if Colorado averages 37 shots per game like it did against Arizona. Not only am I taking Colorado to win in regulation at +104 odds, I’m adding in the Avalanche scoring more than 3.5 goals at +148 odds.

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Game 2 (Dallas Stars lead 1-0)

August 24th, 9:45 p.m., Rogers Place

It was the Dallas Stars that looked like the skilled offensive juggernaut in Game 1 of its conference semifinals series with the Colorado Avalanche. Dallas scored five times on 30 shots and kept the Colorado offense to the perimeter for the most part in taking an early lead in the series. Both teams received contributions from their top lines with six of the eight goals in the game coming from either side’s first trio. But Colorado’s other players were fairly quiet as the Avalanche’s top line had 15 of the team’s 31 shots in the game.

Dallas has discovered a potent offense again with its first line of Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin leading the charge. That trio had three goals and five assists combined with Benn picking up assists on both of Radulov’s tallies and Seguin’s series-opening strike. Anton Khudobin was average in net, but the Stars blocked 21 shots from reaching their goalie, including several in the final three minutes when the Avalanche kept firing shots in direction of the goal searching for a crack. Dallas also did an excellent job at staying disciplined and not allow the Avalanche to use their power play as a spark.

Colorado’s immediate concern is the health of goalie Philipp Grubauer, who had been great in the round robin and first round of the NHL playoffs. His injury is a big issue for the Avalanche, who are now riding Pavel Francouz in goal for the foreseeable future. Once the goaltending situation is sorted out, Colorado needs to find a way to slow down Dallas’ top line, which was dominant when it was on the ice in Game 1. The Avalanche responded well after a shaky first period, but they could not prevent the Stars from re-taking a two-goal lead both times Colorado pulled within one in the second period.

I’d expect Colorado to respond with a giant push early in Game 2, but Dallas looked so poised in handling the pressure in the third period of Game 1. The Stars will need to rely on that defensive structure because Khudobin wasn’t at his peak form in the first game. Khudobin has never been a long-term starter in the NHL, and the mental fatigue of having to play every other night while Ben Bishop is unfit to play may be getting to him. But as long as Dallas is poised defensively, the Stars have shown enough offensive spark to put some real heat on the Avalanche. However, I still like Colorado in regulation at +104 odds from the NHL betting sites in New Jersey.

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Game 3 (Dallas Stars lead 2-0)

August 26th, 10:30p.m., Rogers Place

It looked like the Colorado Avalanche were en route to an important bounce-back win, but the Dallas Stars had other plans with a second-period surge to win Game 2. The Stars were on the defensive for much of the first half of the game, but when their break arose, they took full advantage to put the Avalanche on their heels. Colorado didn’t respond well and all of a sudden its two-goal lead turned into a two-goal deficit and the Avalanche now face a 2-0 series deficit.

Give credit where it’s due and Dallas continues to shoehorn its way into momentum and just run with it. The Stars were outplayed for the first 30 minutes of the game, but scored on the 5-on-3 then again on the ensuing power play to take over the game. Colorado never really recovered from the sudden shock of lost momentum, and Dallas rode that to four goals in the second period. Anton Khudobin was magnificent in stopping 38 of the 40 shots he faced in the game and Dallas blocked 21 other attempts in helping keep the dangerous Avalanche off the scoreboard. It is the second consecutive game that Dallas’ defense stepped up to keep Colorado from clawing its way back into the game, a positive sign moving forward

Colorado continued its slide Monday with a pitiful defensive performance in the final half of the second period. The Avalanche was riding high with a two-goal lead, but then took consecutive penalties to hand Dallas that 5-on-3 and it all vanished. That was a massive loss in momentum for the Avalanche, one they never really recovered from the rest of the game. Pavel Francouz wasn’t the issue as none of the goals were really his fault, but rather the poor defensive work in front of him that allowed pucks to linger in the crease for too long. It also didn’t help that Colorado couldn’t score on more of its eight power plays, notably the two the Avalanche earned in the third period.

The Avalanche are once again the favorite according to the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, and I’m going to keep banging the drum that they will turn it around. Colorado didn’t have to defend much against Arizona, but I also think it is better than what we’ve seen the past two games. Francouz showed in Game 2 that he can make the stops if he sees the puck, and I think the Avalanche’s strong power play will make Dallas pay for its parade to the penalty box. I’m betting Colorado scores more than three goals in regulation (+123 odds) and wins in regulation (+128 odds).

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Game 4 (Dallas Stars lead 2-1)

August 28th, 10 p.m., Rogers Place

It was a game filled with wild runs of momentum, but it was the Colorado Avalanche that rode the final wave to a series-saving win over the Dallas Stars. Colorado scored three times in the second period to take the lead then both teams traded three-goal swings in the third period to bring the Avalanche back to within 2-1 in the series. The Stars top line continues to give Colorado trouble, but the Avalanche countered with much-needed secondary scoring.

Perhaps the final 10 minutes of regulation will be a boost to Colorado’s secondary scoring after the Avalanche blew a two-goal third-period lead. Colorado defended well enough in the first two periods and its big guns scored to help surge into the lead, but the first 10 minutes of the third were bad. Fortunately, the Avalanche’s depth stepped up in the right moments to keep them in the series. However, the Avalanche need better defending and goaltending from Pavel Francouz in order to get by Dallas.

You can evidently never count out Dallas from a hockey game because the Stars have continued to overcome poor periods to surge back into the lead. Their three third-period goals to re-capture the lead should give Dallas confidence, even if the Avalanche were able to claw back and win the game. After looking devoid of offense in the round robin and early first-round, the Stars have scored at least four goals in four of their last five games and now look like an offensive juggernaut. They continue to put pressure on the Colorado defense and Francouz to make stops, and exposed how poor the Avalanche can be in their own defensive zone.

I’ve been very bullish all series on the Avalanche, but the Stars’ resilience continues to impress and they don’t seem fazed by anything. Yes, Colorado won the game in the end, but if Dallas can overturn deficits as quickly as it has in this postseason, it’ll be hard to count them out of games. Colorado’s defense was a sieve in the third period while trying to protect a two-goal lead, which does not bode well for the Avalanche moving forward. The pressure the Stars can apply will be too much for the Avalanche, so I’m headed to the NHL betting sites in New Jersey to bet on Dallas winning at +106 odds.

BET ON DALLAS STARS TO WIN

Game 5 (Dallas Stars lead 3-1)

August 31st, 9:45 p.m., Rogers Place

It continues to be the same story for the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche in this series: Colorado has more opportunities, Dallas does a better job finishing its chances. The Avalanche held a 37-29 advantage in shots, but it was the Stars who emerged victorious and now are just one win away from a trip to the conference finals. Colorado fell behind 3-0 in the first period and nearly clawed back into the game with two second-period goals. But the Avalanche conceded twice in open the third period and two late goals were too little too late. The Stars scored three times with the man advantage and held Colorado to just one power play goal on five chances to seal the victory.

Dallas certainly has some defensive holes it must patch up having allowed 10 goals in the past two games, but the Stars have been lighting up the lamps offensively in this series. Dallas has scored at least four goals in every game of this series, and made the Colorado defense look futile in the process. The Stars have taken advantage of power plays, scoring five times in 14 chances – including 3 of 6 in Sunday’s Game 4 victory. More importantly, they always seems to score goals at the right moments to help switch momentum when it starts going against them, like the two goals Dallas scored in the third period of Game 4. What stood out about Sunday was the fact Dallas received far more secondary scoring, which only makes it a more dangerous team moving forward.

The focus for Colorado begins in goal where everyone knows the play of Pavel Francouz has been subpar. Since taking over the net for an injured Philipp Grubauer in the middle of Game 1, Francouz has allowed 15 goals and has a .862 save percentage in the series. Not all of that can be blamed on the goalie, but Francouz also isn’t doing enough to help bail out his team, particularly early in games. The three goals he allowed in the first period Sunday were difficult to overcome, even though Colorado almost did exactly that. Without more attention paid to the back end, it will be almost impossible for the Avalanche to bounce back in this series even with an explosive offense.

Until Colorado proves it can defend, there’s no reason to believe the Avalanche can work their way back into this series. Once again, Colorado was horrendous in its own zone and Dallas took full advantage of its chances on goal. Whether the issue is Francouz in goal or the way the Avalanche are playing in front of him, allowing five goals on 26 shots will not get it done in the NHL playoffs. Add in the fact Dallas scored three times on six power-play opportunities and everything is going wrong for Colorado in its own zone. The Stars are playing with confidence and proving it can score enough to keep up with the talented Colorado forwards, so they should advance in Game 5, no matter what the NHL betting sites in New Jersey say.

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Game 6 (Dallas Stars lead 3-2)

September 2nd, 8 p.m., Rogers Place

The opening 20 minutes were a dream for the Colorado Avalanche as they faced elimination against the Dallas Stars. Like a literal avalanche, Colorado kept bombarding Dallas with a wave of pressure and attack that led to four goals in a span of two minutes and 36 seconds. It was a quick and efficient confidence boost for a team that had been playing on its heels for much of the series. The final two periods felt more like what we had seen in the first four games of the series, but it was also hard to judge Colorado’s performance while trying to maintain such a large lead. The Avalanche will need to maintain that first-period for 60 minutes in Game 6 if they want to keep hope of a Game 7 alive in this series.

Colorado clearly was desperate in the first period and overwhelmed Dallas to take a 5-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. How much the Avalanche let off the gas after a dominant start is the question that will determine their future in the NHL playoffs. Dallas put a little scare into the Avalanche with two second-period goals, but a quick response after the second goal quelled many fears of a comeback. The Avalanche probably needed a strong start with the news that Michael Hutchinson was going to start Monday’s game, leaving Colorado with its third and fourth options at goalie in an elimination game. Hutchinson held his own with 31 stops, but he also had the luxury of playing with a big lead for much of the night, which takes a load of pressure off the goalie.

After the horrendous first period, Dallas found its footing and actually put some pressure on the Avalanche over the final 40 minutes. In the game, the Stars went on the power play six times, striking twice, and they forced Colorado to block 24 shots while putting 34 other shots on goal. Hutchinson did a good job at keeping the Stars to just three goals, but those three goals were enough to steal back some momentum from Colorado’s blazing start and season-saving victory. The return of Ben Bishop was promising for the future, even if Dallas played terrible in front of him, and Anton Khudobin did an excellent job in relief to stop all nine power-play shots he faced among the 22 pucks shot at him.

It took an explosive first period for Colorado to survive Game 5, and you’d have to imagine Dallas will put an extra focus on the first period of Game 6. Over the final 40 minutes, the play leveled out between the two teams and Dallas won those two periods 3-1. If Pavel Francouz is still unfit to play Wednesday for Colorado then Dallas will be at a massive advantage in Game 6. The NHL betting sites in New Jersey still lean towards the Avalanche in this series, but the defense and goaltending are still a concern for me. Colorado could outscore Dallas again, but I’m expecting a better start from the Stars, so I’ll bet on them to end the series in regulation at +165 odds combined with the normal +105 odds on Dallas winning in general.

BET ON DALLAS STARS TO WIN

 

Game 7 (Series tied 3-3)

September 4th, 4:00 p.m., Rogers Place

The talent we expected the Colorado Avalanche to show in its series with the Dallas Stars has now been on full display for the last two games. Colorado owned the first period of Game 5 and it dominated play for much of Game 6 as well to force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Thursday. The Avalanche played their best defensive game of the series around third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson, who made 27 saves for his second straight win in the series. Meanwhile, Dallas kept the Avalanche offense to few chances, but Colorado’s skill won out with some gorgeous passing to take advantage around the Stars defense.

Colorado’s power play struggles in Game 6 were a bit concerning, but there is still plenty of firepower that an 0-for-5 night isn’t the worst thing. The bigger issue is that the Avalanche only had 14 shots on goal at even strength, which isn’t a successful strategy in the longterm. Colorado was also woefully out-hit 45-28 and had more shots blocked by the Dallas defense (26) then they actually had on goal (24). However, the Avalanche were much better defensively themselves, and that has really been the turning point in this series the past two games. The 28 shots allowed were the fewest since Game 2 and Hutchinson has seemingly returned stability to the goaltending position for the Avalanche.

Dallas can’t fall into crisis mode yet, but the Stars should definitely be concerned with how they’ve played the last two games. The Stars’ best players struggled mightily to get any offense going in Game 6 and Dallas doesn’t have an answer to slow down the Avalanche’s top offensive weapons. Dallas’ parade to the penalty box in this series hasn’t cost the Stars yet, but it would be unrealistic to assume Colorado will continue to convert at a 3-of-28 pace given how well the Avalanche’s power play has looked at times in this postseason. If there is a time Dallas cannot afford to tempt fate, it would be in a Game 7 in a series it led 3-1 at one point.

After winning two straight games, Colorado is again a strong favorite to win Game 7 according to the NHL betting sites in New Jersey. It seems like Dallas has lost its edge since going down 5-0 in the first period of Game 5, even though it didn’t necessarily feel like it at the time. The Stars came back in that game, but they just didn’t look comfortable in Game 6 and are now facing all the pressure entering Game 7. In a one-off game, I’d lean toward the skill of the Avalanche especially given the momentum they are carrying into the deciding contest. With everyone feeling confident again in the Colorado locker room, I’ll pick the Avalanche at -141 odds on the moneyline.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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