Dallas Stars (0-0) at Nashville Predators (0-0)
NHL Hockey: Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 9:30 PM EST (Bridgestone Arena)
Moneyline: Dallas +145, Nashville -165, Dallas +1.5, Nashville -1.5, Over/Under: 5
FREE NHL Pick Dallas Stars vs. Nashville Predators
The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators will square off Wednesday night in Nashville in a bout between historic hockey cities, Dallas TX and Nashville TN.
The Dallas Stars make a much welcomed return to the postseason for the first time in 3 years, having last been in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2015-16, falling to the St. Louis Blues in the second round. The Stars locked up their playoff spot in late last month, playing like a team with their back against the wall since midway through March, including a 6-3-1 finish to the regular season.
Though this season marks Dallas’ return to the Playoffs, the Stars have to be slightly underwhelmed as a wildcard team, as they played well below Central Division powers Winnipeg and Nashville this season and even let the once dead-in-the-water Blues slip past them in the division. What the team lacks in signature wins, it makes up in star players, led by forwards Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and returning trade-deadline acquisition Mats Zuccarello, complimented on the back end by Vezina candidate goalie Ben Bishop. The Stars, which at times this season missed the explosive play of those stars (less than 210 goals marks their worst offensive performance since 2003), really need to thank Bishop for his stupendous netminding down the stretch, and heating up those sticks in the playoffs might be the biggest ‘thanks’ of all. They may have crept into these Playoffs as a wildcard team, but make no mistake about it, the Stars have the potential to do some serious damage in their quest for the Cup.
Smashville is back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 5th consecutive season, having won their second Central Division title in a row. The Preds entered this season as potential favorites to win the West for a second time in three seasons. In the early parts of this season, Nashville looked every part the force they were predicted to be. Much like their dominant run to end last season, the Preds started this season 22-11-2. That momentum would dip throughout the season, and the Preds arguably ended the season on their worst stretch of the season, going just 7-5-1 since March 1.
The Predators need to find that momentum they started this season with, end that they seemed to end their previous 4 seasons with prior to the Playoffs. Part of that needs to start with the offense. Outside of their top line, the Preds have one of the weakest offensive depths, lines 2-4, in the league this season. Much like Dallas, they also rely on their defenders to be active participants on the offensive side as well. Though their goaltending is deep enough to win a close series or two, their offense is going to need to start putting up numbers and taking some pressure off of their back end.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
Dallas is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
Dallas is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games on the road
Dallas is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Nashville
Nashville is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games
Nashville is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Nashville is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games when playing Dallas
ESPN NHL Scores Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars
As far as wild card draws go, this is probably not the team Nashville would’ve liked to face in the first round of the playoffs. While Dallas hasn’t been an overly impressive team throughout the season, the same could be said of Nashville at times, and the similarities between the two clubs are obvious: Weaker offense held up by the top line but drastically lacking in depth, two of the better goalies in the league with above average backups and defense that is relied on as much to put up points as they are to stop them.
This is a series that has the potential in my mind to be an upset in the favor of the wild card team. I think this series will be low scoring throughout and could go 6, or even 7 games. The difference for Dallas is going to be the performance of two of its stars, Mats Zuccarello and Ben Bishop. Zucarello hasn’t seen significant ice time since he was first traded to Dallas and was subsequently injured. Will he be the same player we saw on a bad New York Rangers team, or will be exposed and outmatched by the star players in this series. Similarly, with Ben Bishop nursing a nagging injury, will he be able to put up the same kind of performances (like a franchise-record three consecutive shutouts) we saw in the regular season that have positioned him as a Vezina trophy favorite?
For me, there’s just too many uncertainties to pick Dallas in those opening matchup in Nashville. The Preds are a much more consistent team and have one of the best home ice advantages in the NHL. This one should be a low scoring affair, but I do like Nashville straight up in game 1.