The West's top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights got pushed to the limit but advanced through the second round, and now have a quick turnaround ahead of Game 1's face-off with the Dallas Stars in the Conference Finals.
Vegas and Dallas were both up 3-1 in their last series, yet were forced to play Game 7s after dropping two straight. In the Stars' case, they were underdogs to begin with, but still prevailed 5-4 in an overtime finale against the Avalanche. Meanwhile, the Knights blanked Vancouver 3-0 during the decider.
Continue reading for the remainder of abe Insights' betting preview, which has analysis of the primary lines, listings of the best odds available upon publication, key stats and more for this Stanley Cup Final precursor.
Date: Sunday, September 6
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Stars 40%; Golden Knights 62%
Spread: DAL +1.5 (-170); VGS -1.5 (+160)
Moneyline: DAL +150; VGS -162
Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner couldn't have been much less consistent during the conference semis, but when he was on, was he ever on. Lehner led Vegas to three shutout wins, although Game 7's victory featured a much lighter workload of only 14 saves.
Anton Khudobin has predominantly started between the pipes for Dallas. The club is trying to work in Ben Bishop, who's still dealing with a nagging injury and has looked rusty when he's been on the ice of late. It's certainly worth noting both these teams have two great options in net, as Vegas also has Marc-Andre Fleury.
72.4 vs. 66.7: Despite both clubs showing marked improvement during the postseason, these figures are their post-All-Star break penalty killing percentages. Dallas was marginally better, ranking 27th out of 31 teams, while Vegas was 30th.
3.50 vs. 2.33: That first number is the goals per game allowed by the Stars in the playoffs, followed by the Knights' total in that category. It's quite a shock, because Dallas gave up the second-fewest goals during the 2019-20 regular season.
3.43 vs. 2.59: Finally, we have the expected goals per 60 minutes in 5-on-5 situations for Vegas and the Stars respectively, courtesy of MoneyPuck.com. That's a considerable gap, and a testament to how dynamic the Golden Knights are at even strength.
Regarding those final stats, it's important for context considering what transpired in the second round. Not to take anything away from Dallas. It's just that the typically defensive-minded club had a fair amount of puck luck and were playing a Colorado team down to its third-string goalie, with some key defenders missing to boot.
As for the Golden Knights, they didn't really relent in blowing their prohibitive lead on the Canucks. It was more a function of how well Vancouver rookie goalie Thatcher Demko performed.
Vegas rifled off a whopping 125 shots in the final three contests. Demko didn't waver, making 122 saves on all those chances. It took Shea Theodore's perfect power play shot late in the last period of Game 7 to push the Knights past an epic scoring drought that stretched back to the second stanza of Game 5.
Now that the West favorites are over the hump, they must be licking their chops as they prepare for an opponent that gave up 14 goals in the final three contests versus the Avs. Chances are, Vegas isn't going to fail to convert scoring chances at such a staggering rate unless Khudobin finds some serious playoff magic.
Is there evidence to suggest Khudobin can, at least in Game 1? Well, yes. These teams last played on Friday, and it turns out, Khudobin led all goalies who played at least 30 games in save percentage (.960) off of one day's rest.
The Stars have their work cut out to take four of seven, but if they can find their elite defensive form again, they have a chance. Considering how much more explosive and consistent the Knights have proven to be, though, look for bettors to favor Vegas' spread and moneyline.
That goal total is a little higher than normal, which is fitting for these clubs considering Dallas' surge on the attack in the playoffs and how dominant the Knights can be on offense. Expect a fast-paced, high-scoring affair, as wagers are likely to skew to the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 6.
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