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Home / Articles / Jeff's NHL Western Conference Finals Betting Preview

Jeff's NHL Western Conference Finals Betting Preview

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: May 17, 2023
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Hockey fans everywhere are eagerly awaiting the showdown between the Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knights in game one of the NHL Western Conference Finals. Both teams had an incredible season and are one series away from their ultimate goal. The winner of this series will get to compete for the Stanley Cup Finals, so it's sure to be a thrilling matchup. With both teams having plenty of skill and determination, it's sure to be an exciting series that no hockey fan should miss. Let's do a deep dive and see how these two teams stack up. This should be a good one!

First off, let's talk about one of my favorite handicapping stats in Hockey, shot differential. The Dallas Stars have been crushing it this postseason with a +3 shot differential, while Vegas is struggling behind at -17. In a game where every shot counts, having the edge in this department is a major advantage for the Stars. Dallas also out-shot Vegas 104-90 in their three meetings this season, which is a solid indicator of the Stars' ability to control the game and create scoring opportunities.

But it's not just about the shots – it's about winning those crucial face-offs. The Stars are ranked No. 1 in face-off win percentage among the previous eight playoff teams, while the Golden Knights are languishing at No. 8. With Dallas dominating the face-off circle, they're more likely to maintain puck possession and keep the pressure on Vegas, making it even tougher for the Golden Knights to stage a comeback. Dallas owned the No. 1 Face-off win percentage in the regular season. They have been dominant in controlling the puck all season long.

Now let's take a trip down memory lane and revisit the Stars' track record against the Golden Knights this season. Dallas went 3-0 in those matchups, out-scoring Vegas 9-3. It's clear that the Stars have had the Golden Knights' number, and with that kind of momentum on their side, it's hard not to see them continuing their winning ways in this series. Although, one game was decided in OT and one meeting went to a shootout. It is clear that the Golden Knights should not be taken lightly, as they have shown the ability to go toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the league. The Golden Knights were the No. 1 seed in the West for a reason and just knocked out the highest scoring team (Edmonton) in all of hockey.

Special teams also play a crucial role in determining the outcome of a game, and the Stars have the edge here as well. They boast the superior power play (No. 5 vs No. 18) and penalty kill (No. 3 vs. No. 19) units by a significant margin. This means that when the game is on the line and penalties are handed out, the Stars are more likely to capitalize on their man-advantage and shut down Vegas' attempts to score. In fact, no team has won the Stanley Cup with a Power-Play and Penalty-Kill units both ranked outside the top 15 with a negative shot differential in the Postseason.

The Dallas Stars should have the upper hand in this much-anticipated NHL showdown against the Vegas Golden Knights. With their superior shot differential, face-off win percentage, special teams, and recent head-to-head record, it's hard to argue against the Stars coming out on top. The Golden Knights have struggled with their power play, while the Stars are ranked in the Top 5 in Power Play and Penalty Kill percentage. Vegas is also one of the worst penalty killing teams and has an abysmal record (2-7) against the Dallas Stars of late.

The Vegas Golden Knights have had a tough time on the power play this season despite solid play from their forwards. Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars have been one of the most successful teams in the NHL when it comes to their power play and penalty kill percentages. The Stars rank in the top 5 in both categories whereas Vegas is near the bottom of the league when it comes to penalty killing. In order to compete, Vegas must improve its special teams play and find a way to capitalize on their opportunities with the extra man advantage. I know it was mentioned before, but I can’t stress this enough. Otherwise, this will be a short series.

The Dallas Stars are by far the most talented defensive team the Golden Knights will play in the postseason. Winnipeg and Edmonton were two of the worst. As a result, it will take the Golden Knights’ best effort to score consistently on Dallas. On the other hand, Winnipeg and Edmonton were two of the weakest teams on the blue-line, making it easier for Vegas to produce shots that led to goals being scored. It is clear that this matchup will be an entirely different challenge for the Golden Knights, and they will need to step up their game if they want to come out on top. According to my Model, this series price should be closer to Dallas +105. I like the underdog Dallas Stars in six or seven games.

My Selection: Dallas Stars +115 to win the Series!

Follow Jeff on Twitter @JHSPORTSLINE

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