NHL Odds & Picks: Golden Knights vs. Stars Game 5 Totals, Prop Bets (Monday, Sept. 14)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images. Pictured: Reilly Smith.
The Dallas Stars will attempt to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2000 when they take on the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday. While Dallas remains a sizable underdog to advance in this particular game, there are other ways to attack this contest.
We’ve noticed trends and performances that could potentially lead to finding some value in the less exploited markets.
Correct 1st Period Score: 0-0
Odds: +295 (DraftKings)
The first four games in this series have all gone under the total. The teams have combined for just 12 goals in the series, which my amazing math skills tell me equates to an average of three goals per game. While I lean to the under again in this contest due to the low amount of expected goals these teams are allowing and the goaltending prowess they both possess, there’s a more lucrative way to take advantage here.
Three of the four games in this series have gone scoreless in the first period. There hasn’t been a first period goal since Game 1, when Stars defenseman John Klingberg scored the first and only goal of that contest.
You can look to bet under 1.5 goals in the first period, which seems like a safer way to attack this angle. However, in doing that, you’re laying -139 (DraftKings) in juice.
Why not take a shot at +295 odds? A scoreless first period is not a crazy expectation for an elimination game.
I’m sure the message in the Dallas locker room prior to the game will be to weather the inevitable push that Vegas comes out with. The favorite is facing elimination, and the Golden Knights are already a team that plays most of the game in the offensive zone based on their league-best expected goals and shot attempt numbers.
The Stars will focus on making sure their opponent doesn’t get off and running early in this contest, as it could open the floodgates for a very good Vegas team. Their commitment level to not allowing an early goal will be extremely high.
When you couple the narrative of Dallas focusing on weathering the storm with the actual results we’ve seen so far in this series, this is an extremely worthwhile shot to take at +295.
Vegas Team Total Under 2.5
Odds: +130 (DraftKings)
Game 4 was a defensive clinic from the Stars. Despite allowing over 63% of the shot attempts to the Golden Knights, the expected goals and high-danger chances were basically even.
This means that while Vegas did have a lot of offensive zone time, the team threw a lot of junk towards the Dallas net. The Stars did a good job of keeping the Golden Knights to the outside and limiting the quality of their chances.
This is imperative because Dallas will not win the fight of limiting Vegas shot attempts. The Knights do this to every team they play. No team had a higher share of shot attempts during the regular season, and the same can be said in these playoffs. However, with Anton Khudobin sparkling in net during this series for the Stars, if they limit the quality of the chances, they can survive.
On the flip side, Vegas is definitely in a scoring rut, and at this point that has to be getting into the players’ heads. The Knights have scored just three goals at even strength in this series. They’ve scored more than three goals in a game just once through four games. At 5v5, they are shooting 3.33%. For comparison’s sake, the worst shooting percentage during the regular season was 6.11%. Vegas is shooting just over half of that.
Khudobin has a .952 save percentage in this series. He has been spectacular in net. His performance coincides with some notable slumps for some of Vegas’ top players. Max Pacioretty — the Golden Knights’ leading goal scorer during the regular season — hasn’t scored in seven games. Reilly Smith is their second-leading goal scorer, and he hasn’t found the net in 10 contests.
Vegas’ scoring worries actually predate the beginning of this series. If you remember the Thatcher Demko show of 2020, you’ll recall that the Knights scored only one even-strength goal against a goalie in the final three games of that series.
Over time, it would be wise to bet on regression, but at +130, I believe it’s a worthwhile wager that Vegas continues to grip its sticks tight, especially with the added pressure of an elimination game.
Reilly Smith Over 2.5 Shots On Goal
Odds: +100 (DraftKings)
As mentioned above, Smith was second on the Golden Knights in goals during the regular season. The Golden Knights’ offense relies heavily on him to provide scoring from the second line.
Additionally, Smith plays on Vegas’ top power-play unit and is on the ice for nearly 20 minutes a night. Throughout this series, when Smith has been in the game, the Golden Knights have nearly 60% of the shot attempts towards the net, meaning he spends a lot of time in the Stars’ zone.
In this series, Smith has 11 shots in four games. He has gone over 2.5 shots in three of the four games. If you go back even further, he has recorded three shots or more in six of his last seven games.
During the regular season, Smith put 169 shots on goal in 71 games. This averages to well over two shots per game.
With Vegas playing an elimination game, this team will be desperate. Smith could potentially get even more minutes than usual, and he and his teammates will be throwing pucks at Khudobin all night to finally try and get him to crack.
At even money, I like backing the idea that Smith continues to find himself in position to put shots on net.
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