Stars vs. Golden Knights Odds & Pick: Dallas is a Tricky Underdog On Sunday Night
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Robin Lehner
Game 1: Stars vs. Golden Knights Odds
Looking for Game 2? Click here.
|Stars Odds||+150 [BET NOW]|
|Golden Knights Odds||-180 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||6 (-103/-120) [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
The Vegas Golden Knights are a -250 favorite to beat the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final. Those odds translate to a 68.9% implied win probability.
On one hand, it’s easy to see why the Knights are such heavy favorites.
Vegas has been one of the best teams in the NHL over the past three seasons, but this is probably the best version of the Knights that we’ve seen in their brief history. Vegas was one of the NHL’s best 5-on-5 teams during the regular season, and Pete DeBoer’s team has carried that form over into the bubble.
On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore what we just saw in Round 2. It was pure chaos.
There are some matchups that are easy to project. This is not one of them.
Vegas Golden Knights
It’s really tough to poke holes in the Vegas Golden Knights. They seem to always have the puck, they create more scoring chances than any team in the NHL, and they have one of the deepest rosters in the league. The Knights have game-breaking talent up front (Mark Stone), on defense (Shea Theodore), and in goal (Robin Lehner).
Stylistically, there are few teams that can tilt the ice the way the Knights can. Some teams sacrifice quality for quantity when it comes to scoring chances. Not the Golden Knights. Vegas finished first in expected goals and second in shot attempts during the regular season. The Knights have found a way to create quantity from quality.
|5-on-5 Stat||Regular Season (Rank)||Playoffs|
|Goals For Per 60 Minutes||2.58 (14th)||2.86|
|Goals Against Per 60 Minutes||2.5 (16th)||1.96|
|Expected Goals For Per 60 Minutes||2.85 (1st)||3.37|
|Expected Goals Against Per 60 Minutes||2.2 (9th)||1.91|
|Shot Attempts For Per 60 Minutes||61.68 (2nd)||71.4|
|Shot Attempts Allowed Per 60 Minutes||50.88 (4th)||45.7|
|High-Danger Chances For Per 60 Minutes||12.47 (1st)||14.3|
|High-Danger Chances Against Per 60 Minutes||9.91 (9th)||9.1|
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
When you’re watching a Knights game, it feels like they cut off half the ice. Vegas gets the puck in deep, applies a high-pressure forecheck, and then tries to turn you over before the red line. They dare you to weather the storm because they know that another is coming when they change lines. This team is incredibly deep.
There’s a way to beat the Knights, but a lot of it depends on what they give you. Vegas plays at such a break-neck pace that it will make a mistake here or there. When that happens, the opponent needs to pounce.
That strategy worked to some extent for Vancouver in Round 2. The Canucks also benefited from historic goaltending from Thatcher Demko, but their best players made good on the opportunities Vegas gave them in Games 5 and 6. That being said, the Knights absolutely dominated the Canucks and probably deserved to be done with them in five games.
There’s something to be said about a team that’s tricky to beat. It’s really hard to quantify that identity with just stats, but that’s part of what makes the Dallas Stars so dangerous. It’s hard to figure them out.
Over the past two seasons, the Stars developed an identity as one of the NHL’s best defensive teams. Dallas liked to keep games predictable by staying above the puck, jamming the neutral zone, and keeping the puck out of the danger areas.
Over the past four weeks, the Stars have become a high-risk, high-reward team. Dallas just spent the last fortnight trading chances with one of the league’s most dynamic offensive teams and lived to tell the tale. It was unexpected, and it complicates things for this series.
|5-on-5 Stat||Regular Season (Rank)||Playoffs|
|Goals For Per 60 Minutes||1.96 (30th)||2.8|
|Goals Against Per 60 Minutes||1.99 (2nd)||2.93|
|Expected Goals For Per 60 Minutes||2.42 (13th)||2.51|
|Expected Goals Against Per 60 Minutes||2.17 (T5)||2.56|
|Shot Attempts For Per 60 Minutes||54.2 (21st)||55.1|
|Shot Atttempts Allowed Per 60 Minutes||56.07 (17th)||59.8|
|High-Danger Chances For Per 60 Minutes||11.68 (5th)||11|
|High-Danger Chances Against Per 60 Minutes||10.13 (12th)||10.9|
On paper, you’d say that Dallas’ best chance to win this series is by gumming up the game. Try to be as tough to break down as possible and hope that Anton Khudobin or Ben Bishop outplays Lehner on the other side. It’s not a sexy way of playing hockey, but it’s probably the type of game that suits Dallas the best in this matchup since the Stars allowed the second-fewest 5-on-5 goals during the 2019-20 regular season.
Keeping each game “on script” will keep Dallas in games because the Stars have neither the talent nor depth to hang with the Knights. Of course, that’s what we thought about their series with Colorado, too.
Game 1 Betting Analysis
I really enjoy the Vegas Golden Knights. They’re a likable group, their style is easy on the eye, and they’ve changed the trajectory of the NHL. I wish I could bet on them more often, but they’re too good. I rarely get the pleasure of betting the better team in hockey games because laying the required juice is unwise in a sport that is driven by variance.
The Dallas Stars have proven to be a tricky out in these playoffs. The Stars have been able to fix their biggest problem during the regular season (scoring goals), while also sacrificing some of what made them a contender in the first place (suppressing scoring chances).
The odds tell us the Knights are very likely to win this series, and I’m not here to argue that. Vegas is deeper, has more talent, and has the best goalie in the series. That third point is not to be glossed over since so much of the Stars’ success over the past two years was built on great goaltending.
Even though Vegas is the more likely winner of this game and series, I think Dallas is the better bet. The listed odds imply that the Stars win Game 1 just 39.5% of the time and I think that number sells a solid team short. Often times in these matchups, we pay so much attention to how good the better team is that we forget their opponents are pretty good themselves.
During the regular season, the Stars were a tricky team to beat because they played top-notch defense and got great goaltending. Even though Dallas’ defensive numbers have suffered during its recent goal-scoring renaissance, I have confidence the Stars are still capable of turning games with better teams into coin flips.
I like Dallas at +140 or higher for Game 1 and +190 or higher to win the series.