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Stars-Golden Knights series preview: Betting by the numbers

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For as much as Sunday was scary among those of us backing the Oilers, Monday was a fun day. We threaded the needle between the value bet of 'Kraken: +1.5 games' from our Kraken-Stars preview and various positions on the Stars to advance that we started before the playoffs, and built upon that once they went down 0-1.

Now the Golden Knights - a team we faded in failure - take on the Stars, who we pinpointed before the first puck-drop as an under-the-radar contender. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Stars are the play, but we still need to reiterate why.

Series odds

Stars +115 +120 +1.5 (-190)
Golden Knights -135 -140 -1.5 (+150)

The Golden Knights again have home-ice advantage, but unlike Round 2 - where they were series underdogs - they are short favorites to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. These lines suggest that the Stars (45.5% implied win probability) are notably worse than the Oilers (60.8%), which is a concept I just can't agree with. Even if the Oilers were overrated in their pricing, a 14% swing is excessive.


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 over the season, when isolating play after the All-Star break, and in their first-round matchup (relative to their opponent).

Stars +12% +4% +8% +20%
Golden Knights +11% +2% +8% +10%

One of the reasons the implied win probability of the series' odds is hard to get behind is that - relative to their competition - the Stars played better in Round 2 than the Golden Knights. Seattle - an average NHL team this regular season - was outplayed at even-strength at a 60% rate by Dallas, whereas the Golden Knights got by Edmonton despite only generating 46.6% of the expected goals at even-strength.

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

Stars 51.6 49.7 13.5 10.4
Golden Knights 50.7 52.4 13.2 10.9

*Average NHL HDCV% = ~12.5%

During the regular season, the Stars edged the Golden Knights in three of four of our favorite even-strength advanced metrics. Through two series of playoff hockey, the Stars lead the entire league in expected goal and high-danger chance share.

The Golden Knights' playoff high-danger chance conversion rate of 22% is augmented by scoring on four of just eight such chances in Game 6 against the Oilers. It's unsustainable going forward. Meanwhile, their opponents' HDC conversion rate of 9.5% is a tribute to the goaltending Vegas is getting - but is that sustainable?

Goaltending matchup (goals saved above expected/60 minutes)

Jake Oettinger 0.36 -0.21
Adin Hill 0.30 1.35

In Round 2 - the series where Vegas apparently turned the market's opinion of the team - the Golden Knights got the better goaltending. During that same timeframe, the Stars overcame an opponent that got the better goaltending. Can Adin Hill maintain a GSAx that would make him a lock to win the Vezina Trophy if he sustained that type of play over a full season? Should we expect Jake Oettinger to progress back to a better-than-average goaltender after struggling at times this postseason?

Special teams (regular season)

Stars 25.0 83.5 108.5
Golden Knights 20.3 77.4 97.7

No matter who you blame, the Golden Knights' outlandish even-strength shooting percentage and ability to stay out of the penalty box allowed them to overcome the Oilers' advantages. However, the Stars are good at both segments of special-teams play, creating an advantage there.

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

Stars 51.6% +124 -115 -106
Golden Knights 48.4% -102 +142 +130

Even when adding something extra for Vegas' home-ice advantage, I have Dallas as the smallest of favorites. But that only shows itself as a valuable bet from a series perspective if the Stars' moneyline creeps up to +125 before Friday night.

Best bets

If you have a bet on the Stars to win the Western Conference at +600 or better, congratulations. You've made a good bet and need not do much else. Otherwise, Stars (+120) to win the series is an easy bet to make.

When it comes to game-by-game betting, we'll also side with the Stars even at not technically valuable prices. The belief is that two key figures for Dallas will bring up the team's level of play. Oettinger should get back to the regular season version of himself or, at the very least, be a tougher challenge than Stuart Skinner. Meanwhile, the Stars have made it this far with just two goals from leading scorer Jason Robertson. Perhaps the goals will come via the Stars' power play, which should feast similarly to how the Jets and Oilers succeeded against a poor Vegas kill.

Game 1: Stars moneyline (+115)
Series: Stars to win (+120)

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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