Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames: Round 1, Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames NHL Playoffs Round 1
Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames

Let’s give credit to the Dallas Stars for winning Game 6 on Thursday night, but the Calgary Flames simply choked away their season. The Flames came out flying and scored three goals in the seven minutes of the game, taking a commanding lead in an elimination game. What happened next was just an embarrassment as Dallas scored seven unanswered goals on just 24 shots to extinguish the Flames’ season. The Stars scored five times in the second period alone as Calgary changed goalies twice in the game.

Dallas Stars win 4-2

The Dallas Stars found their stride in Game 4 and never looked back against the Calgary Flames. Dallas had struggled to score in the round robin, but it lit up the Flames for at least five goals in three of the six games, and took advantage of a weak Calgary defense. The Flames squandered this series with poor goaltending and a defense that allowed Dallas to score the winning goal in the final minute of Game 2 and the tying goal with 12 seconds left in Game 4.  The Stars will face a much stiffer test in Colorado in the next round, but at least they will have more confidence in themselves than they did after the round robin.

Game 1

August 11th, 5:30 p.m., Rogers Place

The beauty of the NHL playoffs is the intriguing matchups that tend to develop as teams with contrasting playing styles face each other in a best-of-seven series. That is certainly the case for the third-seeded Dallas Stars, whose prowess defensively this season was matched by their struggles offensively in the round robin round, and the Calgary Flames, who win games with their offense more often than their defense.

Dallas scored just four goals in three games during the round robin, only advancing as the No. 3 seed because it beat St. Louis in a shootout. They scored just once on 38 shots against the Blues and were blanked by Colorado the previous game. The game against St. Louis was a move back to what Dallas does best – limit shots and force teams to be efficient with their chances – but the Stars struggled with more offensive-minded teams in the first two games of the round robin.

Meanwhile, Calgary had five different players score at least two goals as it lit up Winnipeg for 16 goals in a four-game series victory. Even though they underachieved offensively this season, the Flames always had the talent offensively. What was more surprising was the play of Cam Talbot in goal for the Flames. Talbot had a .919 save percentage and 2.63 goals against average as a backup this season, but stole the show with a 1.51 goals against average with one shutout against the Jets.

The NHL betting sites in New Jersey are completely off base in making Dallas the favorite in this series at -136. Not only is Calgary the better team, the Flames won two of the three games this season against the Stars. Dallas cannot match the scoring Calgary is bringing to the table and the Flames looked surprisingly good on defense in the opening-round series. The Flames are the play in this series at +110 and might even win the series fairly quickly in five games, which you can bet at +675.

Calgary is only underdog listed in the negative numbers for the first game because it is clear the Flames can – and should – give Dallas issues. The Flames have the offensive skill to give Dallas a lot of trouble and the Stars’ struggles to score will become more evident. The best bet is to take Calgary in regulation at +155, but you can add in the under 4.5 goals at +185 as well to sweeten the deal.

BET ON CALGARY FLAMES TO WIN

Game 2 (Flames leads 1-0)

August 13th, 10:30 p.m., Rogers Place

It was a certainly an interesting first game between the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames on Tuesday on the first day of the NHL playoffs. Both teams finished with the same number of shots, 26, but it was the Flames who were more clinical with their offense to take home the victory. Calgary scored on its only power play of the game while Dallas was 0-for-2, including a final one in the final minute of the game.

The Stars didn’t panic after trailing 2-0 after the first period on a pair of Dillon Dube goals, and found a way to tie the game midway through the second period on two goals nine seconds apart. However, Rasmus Andersson provided a game-winner for the Flames five minutes later with some crafty skating and individual grit to take the puck from his own blue line to just inside the Dallas zone before rifling the shot past Anton Khudobin.

Dallas did get some good news in the game with Jamie Benn’s goal, perhaps giving the Stars captain some confidence in seeing the puck go in the net. The Stars also showed a lot of hunger and offensive potential while chasing a goal in the third period, but could not get enough shots through on Cam Talbot. But Calgary didn’t get many shots, either, and for that reason,I return to the under 4.5 goals in the game wager at +123 odds.

The fact Dallas limited Calgary to just 26 shots is a good thing for the Stars’ fortunes in this series. It’s going to be a recipe for success more often than not for the Stars to have its defense limit the chances for the powerful Flames offense.

The NHL betting sites in New Jersey expect Dallas to have a good response to the loss, and I expect the same. The Stars will continue to play good enough defensively to limit the Flames’ chances and the first period might be Dallas’ best of the restart, so I might suggest betting on the Stars to score first at -113 odds. Dallas returns to getting solid play from its goalie, who makes one or two more saves, and the Stars will even the series, which you can bet on at the same -113 odds.

BET ON DALLAS STARS TO WIN

 

Games 3 (Series tied 1-1)

August 14th, 10:30 p.m., Rogers Place

After a slog in the first game of the NHL playoffs, the Dallas Stars came alive in Game 2 against the Calgary Flames and turned up the pressure on the Calgary defense. Dallas put 36 shots on goal and scored on five of those attempts to poke holes in the flimsy defense Calgary plays at times. There were a few goals Cam Talbot wants to have back, but it proved how easily Dallas could score if it can sustain pressure.

The Flames scored four times on 26 shots, so they once again proved Dallas’ goaltending is a big problem at the moment, but Calgary needs to clean up its own end first. The Stars found a formula that works by getting pucks to the net and forcing Calgary to clear rebounds from the crease area. The Flames were unable to keep the Stars out of the blue paint, and it hurt them

With such a tight turnaround, the Stars seem like they should be favored by the NHL betting sites in New Jersey for Friday’s Game 3. I don’t know if Calgary can fix its defensive woes in such a short span, and Thursday’s win gives Dallas a lot more confidence in this series. That’s enough for them to win another high-scoring affair to take the series lead.

BET ON DALLAS STARS TO WIN

Game 4 (Calgary Flames lead 2-1)

August 16th, 2:00 p.m., Rogers Place

No one ever asks how you win, just whether or not you scored more than your opponents. So although it wasn’t the prettiest game for the Calgary Flames, they will take the victory and a 2-1 series lead of the Dallas Stars. Dallas was clearly the better team most of the night, but could not solve Cam Talbot, who pitched his second shutout of the postseason. It was the first time this postseason that Dallas had at least 30 shots on net and didn’t win, having won both of its previous games in the NHL playoffs by attempting at least 30 shots.

It felt like Dallas was really unfortunate to lose that game given how much pressure it put on Calgary in the offensive zone. The Stars fired 35 shots through on Talbot and the Flames were forced to block 22 other attempts. They had 10 shots on four power plays, yet couldn’t find a way to put the puck in the net. The Stars were equally impressive defensively in limiting Calgary’s offensive weapons, but it only took one shot to beat them Friday.

Calgary received a lot of puck luck to win Friday night, whether the Flames want to admit it or not. The Flames had just 23 shots on net and Dallas only blocked nine other attempts on target. Their first goal was a bit odd to say the least, though the second was scored due to excellent net-front presence to blind Anton Khudobin. Talbot played well again in goal for Calgary after a shaky performance in Game 2, but any way you look at it, Friday’s game was an unsustainable way for the Flames to win.

The Stars were probably the better team in Game 3 and still lost, but that shouldn’t stunt their confidence in any way. Calgary has been playing on its heels the past two games and have been fortunate to split them, but that luck will run out Sunday. The NHL betting sites in New Jersey have Dallas as the favorite at -125 odds, but if you pick the Stars in regulation, that jumps to +133. It’ll be another low-scoring game, so add in the under five goals at +100 odds.

BET ON DALLAS STARS TO WIN

Game 5 (Series tied 2-2)

August 18th, 5:30 p.m., Rogers Place

Joe Pavelski’s first NHL playoffs hat trick sent the Dallas Stars to overtime with the Calgary Flames, but it was Alexander Radulov who deflected home John Klingberg’s drive to even the series for the Stars. There was plenty of action in the second period of Game 4 on Sunday as the Stars entered the period up 1-0 and went into the second intermission tied at 3. The Flames were 11.9 seconds away from skating away with a 3-1 lead in the series, but Pavelski completed his hat trick by whacking home a rebound.

The Stars did so many good things on offense, notably finding ways to get into the dirty areas around Cam Talbot and score goals in and around the crease. Those are the places where Dallas is going to score goals in this series and the more it can clog the lane and disrupt Talbot’s vision, the better things are going to turn out for them. Dallas actually put 62 pucks on net in the victory and had 26 other attempts blocked by the Flames defense.

Calgary still is winning the special teams battle at the moment with two power play goals and a shorthanded tally among its four Sunday.  The Flames killed off five of Dallas’ seven power plays and converted on half of their own man advantages, plus Tobias Rieder put the Flames ahead 4-3 with a shorthanded score. But they really need to do a better job at giving Talbot some help around the goal and not let the Stars overwhelm them with bodies in front of the net. Dallas is shining on a light on Calgary’s defensive flaws right now, which is problematic.

Dallas is the favorite according to the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, but this series has come down to the play of Talbot in net for Calgary. When he’s been on point in goal for the Flames and controlling rebounds, Calgary has won the game, but when he’s unable to clear pucks from around him and put rebounds in good places, the Stars have pounced. Ultimately, as much as I don’t trust the Stars, they have looked like the better team the last three games. I don’t know if they can win the game in regulation, so stay safe and just take the Stars at -134 odds on the moneyline.

BET ON DALLAS STARS TO WIN

Game 6 (Dallas Stars lead 3-2)

August 20th, 10:30 p.m., Rogers Place

The Dallas Stars continued their dominance of the shot totals in this series and scored two timely goals to push the Calgary Flames to the brink of elimination. Jamie Benn opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal, setting the tone for what was going to take place in the game. The Flames struggled to create quality opportunities consistently and the Stars continued firing pucks on goal before cracking through with the tiebreaker early in the third period.

Thursday was the first quintessential Dallas performance in this series where strong defense and timely scoring led the Stars to a victory. The Stars didn’t need to score in bunches to win like they did in the second and fourth games of this series, and it was the best defensive performance by far for Dallas. Anton Khudobin looked poised in goal to turn aside 28 shots and the Stars penalty kill was magnificent in not allowing a single shot on four Calgary power plays. For the first time in the bubble, it looks like the Stars are comfortable and confident, which is always important to an NHL playoffs run.

Calgary’s margin for error remains small as it has lost three of the last four games with the Stars in this series. On Tuesday, it was the Stars defense that held the Flames to 29 shots and blocked 20 more attempts in keeping a cleaner area around Khudobin. It’s in times like this that the Flames look like they are missing Matthew Tkachuk on the ice now that the winger has missed the last three games with an injury. Calgary needs to find a way to balance its scoring with defense, something it’s done just once in the last four games in this series.

It seems like Dallas is starting to feel confident in all three zones of the ice, and that makes a difference when a series is on the line. Calgary will certainly have a strong pushback Thursday in Game 6, but the Stars seem ready to handle whatever the Flames are going to throw at them. Dallas proved in this series it knows how to win high-scoring games, and it can win when scoring is at a premium as well. There will be plenty of goals Thursday, enough to warrant betting on the over 5.5 goals at +128 odds at the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, but the Stars will take it home at -132 on the moneyline.

BET ON DALLAS STARS TO WIN

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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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