The first two teams to have their games postponed due to COVID-19, the Dallas Stars (4-0-0) are in Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes (3-1-0) Saturday night. This will be the first matchup of the season for these new division rivals. Dallas won both of their meetings last season with a 4-1 scoreline in each contest.
The Hurricanes are favored at (-129) while the Stars check in at (+112). The puck drops at 7:00 P.M. Eastern.
Dallas Stars Preview
The Stars are one of four teams without a regulation loss this season. While part of that is because of the delayed start to the season, Dallas has poured on the offense since returning to the ice, leading the league with a sizzling 4.75 goals per game.
Joe Pavelski (four goals, five assists), Denis Gurianov (three goals, four assists), and John Klingberg have provided the spark offensively and lead the team in points. Amazingly, some of Dallas’ most lethal scorers have yet to find their stride.
Anton Khudobin has picked up where he left off during Dallas’ march to the Cup Final. Khudobin is 3-0-0 this year with a 0.99 GAA and a .958 save percentage. Khudobin is expected to start Saturday night.
Carolina Hurricanes Preview
The Hurricanes are riding high after Thursday night’s shutout win of the defending champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin Necas scored the lone goal in the 1-0 victory, and Petr Mrazek stopped all 32 shots he faced. Carolina is tied with Dallas for the fewest goals against per game (1.50) in the league this season.
Andrei Svechnikov is the only Hurricanes skater averaging more than a point per game this season, with three goals and two assists. Part of the slow scoring output early on can be attributed to the players still out injured or on the COVID list.
Mrazek is the expected starter Saturday. He has posted a 2-1-0 record this season with a 1.01 GAA and a .955 save percentage.
Both teams are dealing with a slew of injuries and illnesses to begin the season. For Dallas, Joel Kiviranta, Roope Hintz, and Jamie Benn are all out with lower body injuries. Blake Comeau is still in COVID protocol, and Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop are both still recovering from offseason surgeries.
Carolina still has five players unavailable under COVID protocol. Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele, Tuevo Teravainen, and alternate captains Jordan Martinook and Jaccob Slavin are all day-to-day and expected to miss Saturday’s tilt.
The Pick Is In
Dallas leads the league with an unbelievable 52.6% power play to start the year. In their two games against Nashville to open the season, the Stars scored seven power play goals and a shorthanded marker. Their 89.5% penalty kill also ranks fourth in the league.
Carolina’s penalty kill is even better; their 91.7% kill rate is second in the NHL. However, the power play ranks in the middle of the pack at 18.8%.
Seeing Carolina favored in this game is surprising, given their COVID absences and Dallas’ offensive prominence. While this game will be an excellent game to watch between two evenly matched opponents, I’m giving the slight edge to Dallas.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Dallas Stars (+112)