Can Stars stay alive despite running on fumes? Don't bet on it

By Andy MacNeil  (VSiN.com) 

September 27, 2020 10:12 PM

Despite owning plus-24 shot differential, and playing much of Game 5 in the offensive zone, the Tampa Bay Lightning were not able to put away the Dallas Stars on Saturday. It was their first of what will be three chances to do so. The Bolts lead the series 3-2 heading into Monday's game, and by my estimation, their odds of winning the Stanley Cup have dropped from -1570 to -570, which is about where it sits at most shops.

For the Stars, winning Game 5 can be attributed to the fact that although they played a lot of the game without the puck—sometimes going as long as 15 minutes without a shot—they managed to force the Lightning shooters to the outside while getting to the dangerous area when they had the puck. The Stars managed to generate 19 high-danger chances to the Lightning’s 12 via Natural Stat Trick. According to Evolving Hockey, the Stars generated 5 expected goals while the Lightning only accumulated 3. 

A gutsy performance, for sure, but the Stars are running on empty. Not only does fatigue continue to be a big concern with goaltender Anton Khudobin, the team has lost some of very useful players and others appear to be banged up. Roope Hintz, Blake Comeau, and Radek Faska all missed Game 5. All three are unfit to play in Game 6. Defensemen Andrej Sekera is also hurt, and will be a game-time decision. Sekera and Comeau play big minutes on the penalty kill, and Hintz’s absence will be felt on both sides of the puck.

There’s about a 38 percent chance that this series goes seven games. In other words, the Lightning have a 62 percent chance of ending the series on Monday. Therefore, the current market price of -165 is fair and that means there isn’t any value in laying the favorite or taking the dog. Instead, focus your attention on the player prop market, specifically shots on goal. Ondrej Palat has gone over the 2.5 shot total that has been set for him in four out of the last five games and overall, has recorded three or more shots in 15 of 24 games.

Palat is playing on the top line with two superstars, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, but he carries his own weight. Along with Victor Hedman, Palat will tally 3 or more shots approximately 60 percent of the time. However, while Hedman’s odds of tallying more than 2.5 shots on goal have gone up from -106 in Game 3 to -138 In Game 6, Palat’s odds of going over the total have stayed the same at -125 which makes it an easy bet to make.

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