The Dallas Stars will look to keep the positive energy going, as they look to build off a two-game sweep of the Blackhawks. The Stars took care of the Blackhawks in Chicago in overtime, and then in Dallas they won in 3-2 in a shootout. On top of that, their starting goaltender, Corey Crawford, was injured in the first game. Crawford didn’t even attempt to stop a couple of shots, including a penalty shot, so it makes more sense now. The Stars beat his backup, Anton Forsberg, on Saturday night as they seek another win on Sunday. Could this be a letdown spot for the Stars? They just beat the Hawks back-to-back, and are winners of four in a row, and six of their last seven contests. Now, they head into Colorado a night after beating the Blackhawks in a shootout.
The Avalanche have been better than expected this season, with a record of 12-10-1. However, they ditched Matt Duchene, sending him to Ottawa as they look toward the future. Despite an okay record of 12-10-1, which would indicate maybe they have a chance, I don’t think they have a chance. Even before the trade of Duchene, they had other issues they have to work out. Last season the Avalanche went 22-56-4, a horrifically bad record that put them in the back of the NHL.
That was with Duchene on the Avs. The team was really sent for a loop when Patrick Roy resigned as head coach in August of 2016. Management had to quickly find a replacement, and landed on Jared Bednar. I think it was certainly played a role in their failures a year ago. It appears that the Stars will give starter Ben Bishop the night off in net, as they go with backup Kari Lehtonen. The Avalanche will also opt to go with their backup in net tonight as well, Jonathan Bernier. Head below for our free Stars vs. Avalanche pick on Sunday in the NHL.
Dallas Stars vs. Colorado Avalanche Pick
Kari Lehtonen is making his first start since leaving the team for personal reasons on November 24th. Lehtonen went home and didn’t participate in team activities. Maybe the brief break will help him out, because Bishop has been the clear number 1 in Dallas since his arrival. Lehtonen enters Sunday with a GAA of 2.89 and 0.897 save percentage. It’s rather lackluster numbers, but that’s just about par for his career. The Stars must be feeling fortunate that they were able to land Bishop, and not have to depend on Lehtonen in net for another year. He holds a career GAA of 2.61 against the Avs.
This game would seem like the right time to give Varlamov a break. Bernier has a recent sharp performance against the Stars, where he pitched a shutout on 28 shots back on November 22nd. However, in his most recent start, Bernier gave up 3 goals to the Flames on 28 shots. Overall, he has been shaky with a 2.99 GAA and 0.901 save percentage on the year. The Avalanche have allowed an average of 3.08 goals per game this season, but are scoring at a healthy rate of 3.17 goals per game. With the backups in net for both sides, there should be ample opportunities for goals. There should be some rust from Lehtonen and Bernier. Lehtonen hasn’t played since November 18th and Bernier the 25th. If you’re looking for a hockey pick on Sunday, I’d look at the OVER in Denver.
PICK: OVER 5.5 (-110)