Stars vs. Canadiens NHL Pick of the Week For March 13, 2018
As the playoff races in both conferences intensify, we’re starting to see moneyline prices get more and more inflated for teams who need the victories the most.
For example, the Florida Panthers have been favorites of -180 or higher in 4 of their last 6 games as they chase down a playoff spot in the East. Prior to this month, the highest Florida had been favored in any game was when the Cats were -145 chalk at home to Detroit in early February. Bettors who recognized all that extra value on the underdog cashed in Monday as the Senators beat Florida 5-3 to cash a +190 ticket for their backers.
Why do I bring this up? Because we’ve got yet another example of an inflated line on tonight’s NHL board as the Dallas Stars visit the Montreal Canadiens. As we look closer at this matchup, I think you’ll agree with me that all the value in this contest is on the home underdog who pays much more than it should.
Dallas Stars/Montreal Canadiens Betting Odds
All the early money in this game has been on Dallas, and for obvious reasons. After opening as a -150 favorite on Monday afternoon, the Stars’ moneyline had been driven up to -180 at the time of writing, and it’s possible we’ll see this line grow even higher. If so, that’ll continue to open up more and more value on the home underdog Canadiens, who already paid a tempting +162 when I wrote this article.
The total and puck line odds have seen much less movement. The Over 5.5 is still the favored side, listed at -110 odds after opening at -115, while the Under 5.5 pays even money. The Stars are +165 to cover the -1.5 puck line, while the Canadiens are -190 chalk to stay within the +1.5 spread.
Stars’ Offense Slumping At Worst Possible Time
What on earth has happened to the Dallas offense? Many expected the Stars to play a lower-scoring, more conservative style this season under new head coach Ken Hitchcock, but Dallas’ offense was a big reason the Stars were one of the most improved teams in the NHL at the midpoint of the season.
Things have certainly dried up since then, however. Over their last 10 games, the Stars have scored just 18 goals, and that includes an empty netter and an overtime marker. Power play goals have also accounted for 6 of those markers, meaning that Dallas has scored just 10 goals in regular 5-on-5 play over its last 10 outings.
Averaging 1 goal a game at full strength obviously isn’t going to cut it for a team that is fighting for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference, and the frustration and desperation Stars forwards are feeling at the moment probably only makes things worse. When teams go into collective funks like this, it often snowballs until they finally break out with a huge performance that takes the pressure off. We saw that recently with the Blues, who exploded for 7 goals against the Kings on Saturday and then built on that momentum with a 4-goal effort Monday in a win over Anaheim.
However, I’m not convinced that Dallas’ offensive outburst will come tonight. Even when the Stars’ offense was running hot, they’ve struggled to generate much on the road all year. Dallas is averaging 2.47 goals per game this season in enemy territory, compared to 3.1 goals per contest in the friendly confines of American Airlines Center.
Canadiens Out Of Playoff Contention But Still Playing Hard
Montreal’s long been dead in the water when it comes to playoff contention, but the Canadiens are still giving it everything they’ve got most nights. Especially at home, where the Habs have consistently been a tough out all year, losing in regulation time just 10 times in 34 games at the Bell Center so far this season.
Even in last night’s 5-2 loss at Columbus, the Canadiens outshot their hosts 40-25. Two days before that, Montreal took the league-leading Lightning to a shootout in their own rink, eventually succumbing 3-2. And two days before that, the Habs fired 40 pucks at Florida’s Roberto Luongo in a 5-0 defeat. This level of effort isn’t reflected in the results (Montreal comes into this game on a 5-game losing streak), but misleading results are often what generates extra value in the betting market.
A more optimistic way of looking at the Canadiens’ recent performance is that they’ve earned at least a point in 9 of their last 11 games, going 3-2-6 during that stretch. They’ve also lost in regulation time just twice in their last 14 at home, continuing to give strong efforts in front of their home fans.
Stars vs. Canadiens Betting Pick
There’s no question which team needs this game more. Dallas is guaranteed to bring a max effort here, desperate to snap out of its recent funk, while the Canadiens are only playing for pride at this point. Montreal is also playing for the second straight night while Dallas has been off since Sunday.
However, those intangibles have already been accounted for in the odds, to the point that all the value in this game is on Montreal. The Canadiens have won 4 straight home meetings with the Stars, and probable Habs goaltender Antti Niemi would love nothing more than to help spoil the playoff chances of the team who cut him loose last season.
You’ll have to plug your nose and take a leap of faith, but at the current price, the smart money is on Montreal in this matchup. I’ll take a shot here with the big moneyline underdog, betting the Canadiens at +162 return at BetOnline.
$100 Stake Wins....