Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars: Series predictions, who has the edge and five things to watch in Stanley Cup Playoffs 2024

Colorado’s first-round series began with a couple of clear advantages for the Avalanche and a couple for the Winnipeg Jets — at least on paper. The margins in this series ahead of Game 1 are much, much tighter. All six of these categories could say “even” at the end of them, and it wouldn’t entirely be a bit.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars: Series predictions, who has the edge and five things to watch in Stanley Cup Playoffs


Colorado’s forwards were awesome against Winnipeg. All four lines had big games. The second line dominated the Jets’ top guys. Valeri Nichushkin and Artturi Lehkonen scored in all five games. Dallas doesn’t have a Nathan MacKinnon or a Mikko Rantanen, but the Stars are very deep up front. Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven are burgeoning stars who gave the Avs all they could handle late in the regular season. Radek Faksa came back from injury and scored in Game 7 against Vegas, but he could be on the fourth line. Will the Avs be able to wear down some of the older guys like Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn, Matt Duchene and Tyler Seguin with their collective speed after they just survived a seven-game war with a physical Vegas club? Will Mason Marchment have an impact on this series? What about Jonathan Drouin? Edge: Avalanche


Devon Toews is not the second-best defenseman in this series. If he plays as well as he did in the first round, though, that would be big for the Avs. Miro Heiskanen is fantastic and should push Cale Makar in the Norris Trophy race for the next half-decade. Thomas Harley is another young, emerging star. Josh Manson and Samuel Girard were great against the Jets, and they’ll need to be again. Here’s where it gets interesting: The Stars have Chris Tanev on the second pair, and he’s been lights out for them. He’s better than every Jets defenseman not named Josh Morrissey. But, the Stars also basically don’t play their No. 6 guy, Nils Lundkvist. Will their excellent top five be able to survive a second straight long, taxing series? Just getting a solid 15 minutes a night from Jack Johnson could be the difference in the series. Edge: Avalanche


Before this season, Jake Oettinger had a longer track record of success as a No. 1 goalie and probably ranked higher on most pundit’s “best goalies” lists. Like Alexandar Georgiev, Oettinger did not have a great regular season. Georgiev finished 13th among the 34 goalies who played at least 40 games in goals saved above expected, per Money Puck. Oettinger was 21st. Both were just OK in the 2023 playoffs. Both goalies had a rough Game 1 to start this postseason. Both have been much better since. Oettinger has had multiple postseasons when he had to play through multiple rounds, while this is the first for Georgiev. Edge: Stars

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Power play

These two teams finished almost dead even in power-play proficiency in the regular season. Valeri Nichushkin might be the best net-front guy in the NHL in 2024. Joe Pavelski might be the best ever, and he’s still got it. The Avs did score 10 more times with the extra man, though, because they had 38 more opportunities. Colorado also had two more power plays than Dallas in the opening round, despite playing two fewer games. How the series is officiated could be a factor in who emerges on top. Edge: Avalanche

Penalty kill

The Stars allowed 10 fewer shorthanded goals during the regular season. Seriously, we’re splitting atoms between these teams. Colorado’s penalty kill was in the top 10 for much of the season before slipping just outside it. Radek Faksa was Dallas’ top PK forward by time on ice per game in the regular season, so his getting healthy could be big. The Stars also scored 12 times shorthanded this season, while the Avalanche yielded the fourth-most expected goals against while playing 5-on-4, per Natural Stat Trick. One shorthanded goal at the right (or wrong) time could swing this series. Edge: Stars


These are two of the best coaches in the sport. Among active coaches with more than 20 playoff games on their resume, Jared Bednar is first in winning percentage (47-28, .627). Pete DeBoer is third (82-67, .550). If the Stars win this series and two conference final games, DeBoer will pass Jon Cooper (who is second in winning percentage) for the most playoff wins among active coaches. If they win the Stanley Cup, he’d be tied for sixth all-time with Darryl Sutter and Pat Quinn. Bednar has a championship. DeBoer does not. But the Dallas coach is now 8-0 in Game 7s, and he’s been to the conference finals six times with four different organizations. Edge: Stars

Five things to watch

Colorado Avalanche close out October with big win over Minnesota Wild - Mile High Hockey

1. Whole lot of firepower

In an about-face from their first-round series, the Avs will encounter a Dallas Stars club that boasts every bit as much firepower as they do. The Avalanche and Stars finished first and third, respectively, in goals scored per game during the regular season, with the Avs power play (24.5%) only slightly more effective than the Stars (24.2). The one difference? Colorado was able to maintain, and even augment, its offensive production in the first round of the playoffs, netting 28 goals in just five games against one of the league’s most formidable defenses. As for the Stars? They managed just 16 goals in a knock-down, drag-out seven-game series against Vegas.

2. Depth advantage?

The Stars’ presumed advantage entering this postseason was their superior depth scoring. While Dallas had just two 30-goal scorers this season — centers Wyatt Johnston (32) and Roope Hintz (30) — six others also topped 20. The Avs, by comparison, had four reach the 20-goal plateau. Yet in the first round of the playoffs, it was the Avs whose depth emerged as a critical factor in winning four straight vs. the Jets. Colorado had eight players score two or more goals over five games, with the the second line of center Casey Mittelstadt (6 points) and wings Artturi Lehkonen (8 points) and Zach Parise (2 points) proving to be formidable. Despite playing two more games, the Stars produced just three multi-goal scorers. So, perhaps, the advantage belongs to Colorado?

3. Parsing season series

A couple of weeks ago, one of the big questions facing the Avs was whether they could reverse the Jets’ regular-season dominance (3-0, plus-13 margin in season series). Now the roles are reversed. Colorado is the team that held a strong grip on the regular-season series, beating the Stars three times in four meetings, including an overtime winner from Nathan MacKinnon in a 5-4 triumph on Jan. 4. Of course, only one of those meetings came after the early March trade deadline. And the Stars won that one convincingly, 7-4, at Ball Arena on April 7. Does veteran defenseman Chris Tanev really make that much of a difference?

4. Hot goaltenders

The other big question facing the Avs heading into the postseason: Is goaltender Alexandar Georgiev broken? Colorado’s netminder, of course, answered that emphatically after a shaky Game 1 against the Jets, allowing just eight goals over the next four games with a .931 save percentage. Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger had his own troubles with inconsistency during the regular season but responded with a brilliant seven-game series against Vegas that saw him post a .925 save percentage while allowing 1.95 goals per game. Can either goaltender keep that up against their opponents’ relentless attacks? The answer to that question might decide this series.

5. Rust vs. rest

By the time the puck drops on Game 1 Tuesday night, the Avs will have gone a full week without playing a game. While that rest was no doubt welcome for a roster nursing a few bumps and bruises, that could also produce at least a period or two of rust against a Stars team that just wrapped up its series with Vegas on Sunday. The other side of that coin? With their second-round series rotating with games every other day all the way through Game 7, the Stars will have zero opportunity to catch their breath. And that can only be an advantage for the well-rested Avs.

Staff predictions

Corey Masisak, Avalanche beat writer: Unless the victor leaves this series too battered and injured, the team that survives this battle could be the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Stars are Winnipeg-plus, with even better depth and more collective postseason success. The Avs still have a star-power advantage, but not nearly as big of one on the back end as they did against the Jets. And they probably don’t want to face a Game 7 against a coach who is 8-0 in them. Avs in six.

Troy Renck, sports columnist: The Avs arrive rested, ready and rebounding like Dennis Rodman. They won four straight to finish off the Jets, and won three of four games vs. the Stars during the season. Dallas went the distance with the Knights. The momentum might carry over in Game 1, but not the entire series. The Avs’ stars will continue to simmer, but second-line center Casey Mittelstadt is an X-factor. He delivered six points in the first round. Similar production will help overcome the inevitable concern about goalie Alexander Georgiev. Avs in seven.

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: We believe, Georgie! Jared Bednar’s second and third lines were scoring for fun in Winnipeg. Colorado’s won in four of its last five trips to American Airlines Center. Of the Avs’ last five playoff eliminations, two have been to a Peter DeBoer-coached team (San Jose, then Vegas) and one’s been at the hands of Dallas. If you’re going to exorcise several playoff demons, why not do it it in one fell swoop? Avs in six.

Kyle Newman, sports reporter: After the Avs pummeled the Jets in Round 1 — and the Stars had to grind out a seven-game series win over Vegas — all the momentum, and fresh legs, should be with Colorado. With 28 goals over five games against Winnipeg, I don’t see the Stars being able to contain the Avalanche’s offensive onslaught. During the regular-season series between the two teams, which Colorado won 3-1, the Avs racked up 20 goals in a four-game span. The top-seeded Stars are going home, especially considering Alexandar Georgiev continues to play well in net for Colorado following his Game 1 dud against Winnipeg. Avs in six.

Lori Punko, deputy sports editor:  The big question going into Game 1: Are the Avs rested or rusty? Colorado has had a full week off while Dallas was battling Vegas in a hard-fought seven-game series. While the Stars have the momentum going into Tuesday night’s game, I think long-term this is an advantage for the Avs. The battle scars of back-to-back, lengthy series are going to show on Dallas, especially goaltender Jake Gettinger, who gave up an average of five goals per games against Colorado in the regular season. Avs netminder Alexandar Georgiev needs to stay the course after his rough start against the Jets. Avs in six.

Series schedule

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Game Location Date Time TV
Game 1 Colorado at Dallas Tuesday, May 7 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Game 2 Colorado at Dallas Thursday, May 9 7:30 p.m. TNT, truTV
Game 3 Dallas at Colorado Saturday, May 11 8 p.m. TNT, truTV
Game 4 Dallas at Colorado Monday, May 13 TBD ESPN
*Game 5 Colorado at Dallas Wednesday, May 15 TBD TBD
*Game 6 Dallas at Colorado Friday, May 17 TBD TBD
*Game 7 Colorado at Dallas Sunday, May 19 TBD TBD

* If necessary

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