Two Central Division foes are set to take the ice Monday night in Sunrise, Fla., as the Florida Panthers host the Dallas Stars. The Stars (5-3-4) enter in the midst of a five-game losing streak, their last win coming nearly three weeks ago, while the Panthers (11-3-2) just had a three-game win streak snapped on Saturday.
Here is a look at both of these teams’ statistics and key players, along with a free pick. It is their first meeting of the season after several previously-scheduled games were postponed. Florida is a slight (-120) favorite at home.
By the Numbers
Both of these teams have shown an ability to score, but the home team gets the slight edge. Florida is averaging 3.44 goals per game, fifth in the NHL, on 32.4 shots, the second-most in the league. Their power play is also above 30 percent successful, while they have a top-10 shooting percentage.
For Dallas, despite ranking in the bottom-five of the league with 27.8 shots per game, they still manage to crack the Top 10 with 3.33 goals and a shooting percentage inside the top-three. Also, at 33.3 percent, the Stars boast the second-best power play in the league.
Defensively, this is where the Stars have an edge. The defending Western Conference champs allow 2.67 goals on 27.4 shots per game, ranking eighth and fifth in the league, respectively. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 17th and 21st in the NHL with 2.88 goals allowed and 30.7 shots allowed per game. However, Florida’s 79.2 penalty kill percentage ever-so-slightly edges Dallas’ 78 percent.
Stars Betting Preview
COVID-19 delayed the beginning of Dallas’ season, but last week, Dallas’ season was once again paused due to the extreme winter storms that hit Texas, resulting in freezing temperatures and power outages across the state. In the middle of that, the Stars followed up winning their first four games with losses in seven out of their next eight, including their most-recent five-game losing streak. The Stars have had plenty of challenges to work through in 2021 and will hope to get back on track Monday.
One of Dallas’ veterans has been leading the way through the first 12 games. Joe Pavelski is the team leader with 17 points, including nine goals, five more than the next-highest player. Defenseman John Klingberg has been a solid playmaker, racking up 10 assists with a pair of goals. Two other players have 11 points; Alexander Radulov and Denis Gurianov, while Roope Hintz has 10. However, Hintz is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and may miss Monday’s game.
In net, expect the Stars to turn to Anton Khudobin. Khudobin took over the starting role from the now-injured Ben Bishop last season and has run with it since, going 3-3-1 with a 2.75 GAA and .902 save percentage. Rookie Jake Oettinger will serve as his backup.
Panthers Betting Preview
Four out of Florida’s first six games were postponed, putting them a step behind most of the league who had already played a bunch of games. Fortunately for the Panthers, things have been smooth for much of the season. Florida started the season 6-0-2 before suffering their first regulation loss on February 7th, more recently than Dallas’ last win. Also, just two of their wins have come when they score fewer than three goals. Based on how this season has begun, Florida expects this to be the year to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The Panthers have had much of their production come from their top two lines. Jonathan Huberdeau is off to a roaring start, leading the team with 22 points, including 15 assists. Not too far behind him is captain Aleksander Barkov, who enters Monday with six goals and 12 helpers. The 34-year-old Patric Hornqvist has been a revelation, leading the team with eight goals, trailed slightly by Carter Verhaeghe’s seven. A couple more defensemen are also registering double-digit points; veteran Keith Yandle and former first overall pick Aaron Ekblad.
Florida has employed a true goalie tandem this season. The big-name and big contract Sergei Bobrovsky is 5-2-1 with a 3.18 GAA and .889 save percentage in his second year in Florida. But Bob has been outperformed by Chris Driedger, 26-year-old in his second year with the team as well. Driedger is 6-1-1 and carried an impressive 2.35 GAA and .926 save percentage.
It will be interesting to see how the Stars rebound after some time off due to the winter storms. It may actually be good for them, as their best run this season came after their first few games were postponed.
However, the Panthers are playing some excellent hockey right now and should take care of business against a team that has looked poor on the road. Give me Florida at home to keep rolling and win this game on Monday night.
Free Pick: Florida Panthers (-120).