Blaine Spencer previews Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights
Puck drop is, Sunday, September 6th at 8:00 EST in Edmonton, Alberta on NBC
After beating the Colorado Avalance and the Vancouver Canucks in their respective second round series, the Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knights will meet up in the Western Conference Final.
The Dallas Stars reached their first Conference final since 2008 defeating the Avalanche 5-4 in overtime. Reserve player Joel Kirviranta was the unsung hero with a hat trick to help the Stars prevail.
Goalie Anton Khudobin stopped 40 shots for the Stars. Dallas are the 4th highest scoring team since the restart but conceding the 5th most goals defensively. The team plays ragged and have played in high scoring affairs in order to win. They will have to be better against Vegas to advance.
Vegas advanced to their second Conference Final in three years with a Game 7 victory over the Canucks. Robin Lehner posted his third shutout of the series for the team to advance 3-0. The biggest play was when the Golden Knights killed a 5-minute major penalty late in the second and beginning of the third period. After that, it was all Golden Knights.
Alex Tuch leads Vegas in goals (8 goals) during the current playoffs, while Shea Theodore has collected the most points (16 points). As for Dallas, Denis Gurianov and Joe Pavelski lead the Stars with eight goals during the current postseason, while Miro Heiskanen has collected the most points (21 points).
Vegas has an excellent record against the Stars, having beaten the boys from Texas on six of the last seven occasions. Dallas has definitely impressed in its last 10 games or so, entering the postseason with little to offer in terms of willingness to play and focus.
The Stars have been opportunistic at best throughout the most part of the current campaign and have taken chances in circumstances, which would not normally present a real shot at success.
Dallas has managed to make full use of its roster, relying on some unlikely protagonists when the likely ones have been underperforming. The Golden Knights, though, have not had this problem – the team is solid inside out and will present the toughest test yet to the Stars, who find themselves where they are largely due to defensive instabilities of their opponents.
Game 1 is crucial for both sides as teams who win Game 1 go on to end up winning the series roughly 70 percent of the time. Therefore, both teams will go out to try and force the issue.
Predictions & Picks
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Line: Dallas Stars (+145) vs Vegas Golden Knights (-167)
Vegas is a better, more complete team which has shown far fewer cracks than Dallas in the postseason. Their forward group is significantly faster, their D corps is at least on par and, based on playoff performance alone, they have a decided advantage in net. This series may be short and I like Vegas to get off to a good start with a game 1 victory.
Picks: Vegas -1.5 on the Puck Line (+160) & Over 5.5 (-134)
I would parlay these two together which gives you significantly better odds. The combined parlay odds are +270. Vegas has dominated Dallas recently including a come from behind victory in the round robin earlier in the postseason.
Dallas’ defense has been suspect at best while Vegas has looked clearly like the best team in the Western Conference throughout. Expect goals as well as the Stars have hit the over in most of their series matchups throughout the postseason. The game and series may end up being shootouts.