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The Dallas Stars travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets in a Central Division matchup on Saturday. The Stars are 8-9-5 on the year with 21 points, which puts them at seventh place in the division, 26th overall in the NHL. Columbus has a 10-12-6 record for 26 points for fifth place in the division and 22nd in the league.
Columbus Dealing With Locker Room Drama
It’s always an interesting team when John Tortorella is behind the bench. Adding mercurial personalities like Patrik Laine as Columbus has done only adds to it. Tortorella is well-known for benching his best players, and is at it again with Laine, who played a total of 2:20 in the third period and overtime. All of this happened as Columbus blew a 4-1 lead in the third and lost the game in overtime.
Oliver Bjorkstrand ended the game with two goals and an assist, while Max Domi and Laine both came away with a goal and an assist each. Laine’s tally came in his remarkably limited third period time. Bjorkstrand leads Columbus with 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists).
Goalie Elvis Merzlikins played well until the third period, when he allowed three goals. He faced 32 goals, saving 27 of them. Joonas Korpisalo anchors the goalie tandem, posting a 92.806 save percentage and allowing 2.45 goals per game.
The Blue Jackets score an average of 2.64 goals per game, and allow 3.29 goals to opponents. They are near the bottom of the league on special teams, ranking 25th on the power play (16.2%) and 28th for the penalty kill (72.5%).
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 12, 2021
Dallas Looking to Take Advantage of Delicate Blue Jackets
This has simply not been the Dallas Stars’ season. They’re only one point above the miserable Detroit Red Wings at the bottom of the Central Division and 26th in the league with 21 points. They come into this game having gone 2-7 in their last nine games, but there have been spots of brilliance in that time. Despite being shutout over two games by Tampa Bay on 2/27 and 3/2, their two wins had them scoring over five goals each time, including a shutout win over Columbus the last time these teams met just a week ago.
In that game on 3/6, the Stars had five different goal scorers: Roope Hintz, Jason Dickinson, Radek Faksa, Miro Heiskanen, and Joe Pavelski. Pavelski leads the team in points and goals with 24 and 13, respectively. The defense was stellar, allowing only 21 shots, which goalie Jake Oettinger was able to handle for the shutout. Oettinger combines with Anton Khudobin for a good goalie tandem in Dallas. They combine for a .911 save percentage and 2.43 goals allowed.
The Stars score an average of 2.91 goals per game and allow 2.55 goals per game to opponents. Dallas does surprisingly well on the power play, converting on 24.4% of their chances, good enough for 11th overall.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 12, 2021
Blue Jackets are 1-7 in their last 8 games as an underdog.
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This line goes beyond the numbers. Columbus continues to flaunt its unstable locker room with benchings like we saw last night. Some are even hypothesizing that Tortorella wants to be fired. If he keeps this up, that very well may happen.
Dallas is not a good hockey team, but they’re at least more stable than their opponent going into this one. Splitting the series with Chicago at home, including a big win on Kane’s 1,000th game, shows they can at least show up when the spotlight is on them. Dallas wins.
Want another opinion on this pick?
Full-Game Total Pick
If we see Khudobin and Korpisalo in net, this will be a great matchup. With that in mind, there is a very emotional Columbus team taking the ice. Laine, assuming he’s not riding the pine for three periods, can react two ways: fired up and coming hard at Khudobin from the left face-off circle, or despondent and lackluster. Cam Atkinson and Jack Roslovic, among others, can pick up the slack, and Dallas is well-balanced enough to respond and hang in there. Go with the over.