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Oilers-Golden Knights series preview: Betting by the numbers

Ethan Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The thin line between love and hate for the Stanley Cup Playoffs wasn't exclusive to the Kings-Oilers or Jets-Golden Knights series, but it was a clear one for Los Angeles and Winnipeg.

Maybe there was value on the Kings with the odds heavily favoring Edmonton. It especially felt that way with the Kings' early 3-0 lead and late 4-3 lead in Game 4 while up 2-1 in the series. Maybe the Jets were live at anything plus-money before starting their series in Vegas - it certainly felt that way after a convincing road win in Game 1.

But the Kings let go of their near-stranglehold on the series, and the Jets' injuries (plus a reversal of a presumed goaltending advantage) flipped the momentum, so the Oilers and Golden Knights did what other high-caliber teams could not: survive the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Series odds

Oilers -110 -155 -1.5 (+120)
Golden Knights -110 +135 +1.5 (-150)

The market already sniffed this one out. Vegas has the division title and the home-ice advantage that comes with it, but the Oilers are the better team. For the first - and maybe only - time this postseason, the team playing on the road in Game 1 is favored to win the series.


Using primarily even-strength metrics to evaluate a team's quality, we've established how a team rates relative to an average NHL team. We use these ratings to create an implied win probability split in each game, which we then translate to a fair moneyline price for each before home-ice advantage is applied and the sportsbook takes its vig on a bet. Here's how these teams rated for the season, when isolating play after the All-Star break, and in their first round matchup (relative to their opponent).

Oilers +14% +9% +19%
Golden Knights +11% +2% +8%

What you do against who you're playing matters, particularly in the short term. So the Oilers driving even-strength play at 54% against a good team like the Kings - who had the ability to fire back - means more than the Golden Knights taking down the wounded-wing Jets.

Advanced metrics at even strength (regular season)

xG%= Expected goals share
HDC%= High-danger chance share
HDCV%= High-danger chance conversion rate
OPP. HDCV%= Opponents' high-danger chance conversion rate

Oilers 53.6 55.9 11.1 12.5
Golden Knights 50.7 52.4 13.2 10.9

*Average NHL HDCV% = ~12.5%

The Oilers only converted 9% of their even-strength high-danger chances against Joonas Korpisalo. I'd expect better against Laurent Brossoit, but even if that doesn't happen, that low rate was still good enough to win in six games.

How disappointing was Connor Hellebuyck? A minus-1.5 GSAx encapsulates the Golden Knights' unsustainable 21% HDC conversion rate on the Jets' goalie.

Goaltending matchup (regular season)

Stuart Skinner 0.38
Laurent Brossoit 0.62

Stuart Skinner was OK against the Kings' high-danger chances, but a minus-2.35 GSAx for the series is very concerning as they now face a team known for usually converting chances at a high rate.

Special teams (regular season)

Oilers 32.4 77.0 109.4
Golden Knights 20.3 77.4 97.7

The Oilers had what felt like an unsustainably good power play during the regular season and somehow blew through the efficiency stratosphere in the first round, scoring more than half the time the Kings took a penalty. While Vegas consistently doesn't take penalties, the Jets actually had the second-best power play in Round 1.

Moneyline betting guide

If you followed our NHL betting guide where we projected moneylines for each game, allowing us to compare and contrast our price to bet with what's available on a daily basis, you may be interested in what prices would be considered valuable for each team when they're on the road, at home, and for the series as a whole.

Price to bet

Oilers 53.6% +112 -131 -126
Golden Knights 46.4% +109 +161 +154

As alluded to above, the market's on top of this. The games in Vegas are coin flips, and the -110/-110 moneyline indicates that. We'll see what moneylines are available when the series shifts back to Vegas. The current available series prices fall in between anything close to a "must bet," so we have to find a play the old-fashioned way.

Best bets

With the unusual scenario of the favorite playing on the road for Game 1, it's important to determine how much we care about home-ice advantage in this series.

The Oilers handled a trio of road games in Los Angeles - a comparable road environment to Vegas - and won two of three, with the lone loss coming in overtime after a dubious no-call on a puck being contacted with a high-stick. The Oilers also have experience from last postseason's games in Calgary and Colorado. While the Golden Knights took both games in Winnipeg, the Oilers represent a considerable upgrade in opposition.

Having Game 6 at home makes the Oilers more likely to win in six games or better. They can hold serve in Edmonton and should be able to take at least one of the first three games in Vegas, setting up a potential closeout in Game 6, where a plus-money price will be valuable on a game with a moneyline that should be higher than -150.

The Oilers got their scare and are ready to take care of business - as long as their goaltending can hold up from Game 1.

Game 1: Oilers' moneyline (-110 or better)
Series: Oilers -1.5 games (+120 or better)

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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