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Avalanche-Stars betting preview: What's a rest advantage worth?

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Blame Luis Miguel.

The NHL's forefathers probably didn't envision the longtime Latin music sensation's Wednesday concert being the reason for the Stars' quick turnaround after winning Sunday's Game 7 over the Golden Knights (along with the NBA's Mavericks calling dibs on American Airlines Center next weekend). But here we are: Game 1 of Stars-Avalanche goes Tuesday.

A tight turnaround complicates a series handicap, like the Bruins-Panthers matchup. In this case, one side might've been a bigger favorite if Dallas wasn't a sports and entertainment hotbed and all things were closer to equal.

Let's continue to use the tools we've sharpened leading up to the postseason (even-strength play, skating talent, goaltending) to break it all down.

Advanced metrics glossary

  • ES = Even strength
  • xG% = Expected goals share
  • HDCA/G = High-danger chances allowed per game
  • GSAx/60 = Goals saved above expected per 60 minutes
  • SNIPES = HDC goals + PP goals / HDC + PP chances

Avalanche vs. Stars

Avalanche +115 +105 +1.5 (-200)
Stars -135 -125 -1.5 (+160)

Tale of the tape

Converting scoring changes at a high rate and having above-average goaltending are crucial ingredients to playoff success. Let's look at predictive metrics for those two elements.

Skaters' scoring talent

Avalanche 14.0% 51.9 9.2
Stars 16.3% 55.6 8.3

The above table spells out why the Stars may be an attractive bet relative to the market. They drove play well (xG%), converted chances better than any playoff-caliber team, and limited opponents' high-danger chances in the regular season. Against Vegas, Dallas overcame a pair of hot goaltenders, as Adin Hill and Logan Thompson (combined 10.46 GSAx) held the Stars to a 9.2% SNIPES rate. Connor Hellebuyck didn't do the same against Colorado (22.7% SNIPES).

Goaltending matchup

Avalanche Alexandar Georgiev -0.06 -0.19
Stars Jake Oettinger 0.12 0.32

As expected, Alexandar Georgiev was a replacement-level goalie in Round 1. But there's a twist: Georgiev allowed 4.4 goals saved above expected in Game 1, meaning the following four contests were good enough to get him back near league average. Jake Oettinger's path was similar, going from minus-2.2 GSAx after a brutal Game 1 to plus-2.33 for the series.

Team ratings

Oddsmakers create moneylines based on a numerical valuation of every team. Here's the market's most recent valuation compared to how I have them rated (based on the metrics above) for the full season and post-All-Star break:

Avalanche +20% +9.1% +3.0%
Stars +20% +30.1% +16.1%

The betting market loved both teams equally throughout the season, which explains why the betting line's so tight - essentially accounting for less than the home-ice advantage. However, the Stars' quality shines through when you trim it down to the skaters' metrics mentioned above, which we consider most valuable.

With five more expected goals and 30 more high-danger chances at even strength, the Stars were 18% better than the defending Stanley Cup champions, a Vegas team rated 15% above average in the market. By comparison, the Avalanche were 14% better than the Jets (rated 10% above average). The difference between Colorado's five-game series and Dallas' seven-game series was goaltending.

Best bet

Here are the prices that would be considered valuable for each team on the road, at home, and to win the series.

Avalanche 26.7% +214 +157 +313
Stars 73.3% -171 -128 -261

Now for the caveat: the rest issue. The numbers above don't acknowledge Dallas' tight turnaround or Colorado's time off and fewer early playoff miles accrued. There's no formula to account for those variables.

For Dallas, it's a similar situation to Round 1 since Vegas came into the playoffs with a full roster for the first time all season. All signs pointed to the Stars winning, but quantifying it was impossible since there was no way to know if Vegas' personnel would take it to another level.

Last year, Dallas played two long series against inferior teams before running out of gas while attempting to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the Western Conference Final. Treading lightly is the prudent strategy, but the Stars' quality - they rated as the best road team in the NHL this season - warrants a bet at a short price.

Best bet: Stars to win series (-125)

(Stats sources: Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey)

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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