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WCF betting preview: Stars aligned for trip to Stanley Cup Final

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The Oilers escaped Vancouver with a Game 7 win, outlasting the shorthanded Canucks. Edmonton now has some questions to answer after that long series, and with a quick turnaround for the start of the Western Conference Final.

The Stars answered their own doubts in the last round against the Avalanche and will host Game 1 on Thursday.

Unlike the Eastern Conference Final, the team with home-ice advantage in this series is the favorite at a parallel price.

Advanced metrics glossary

  • ES = Even strength
  • xG% = Expected goals share
  • HDCA/G = High-danger chances allowed per game
  • GSAx/60 = Goals saved above expected per 60 minutes
  • SNIPES = HDC goals + PP goals / HDC + PP chances

Oilers vs. Stars

Oilers +110 +110 +1.5 (-210)
Stars -130 -130 -1.5 (+170)

Tale of the tape

Converting scoring changes at a high rate and having above-average goaltending are crucial ingredients to playoff success. Let's look at predictive metrics for those two elements.

Skaters' scoring talent

Oilers 15.3% 56.7 8.8
Stars 16.3% 55.6 8.3

The Oilers and Stars recorded similar regular-season numbers, but the playoffs tell a different story. Edmonton's SNIPES percentage is up to 17.8%, suggesting it's been a little lucky in converting quality scoring chances. That's even accounting for the Oilers going 1-for-10 on the power play to close Round 2.

Dallas has continued its brilliance in expected goals share (xG%) while playing against highly rated teams in Vegas and Colorado, leading the playoffs at 56% while having a below-average SNIPES percentage of 11.3%. That number should rise as the sample size grows.

Goaltending matchup

Oilers Stuart Skinner 0.16 -0.37
Calvin Pickard 0.1 0.69
Stars Jake Oettinger 0.12 0.22

Dallas is set to face another suspect goaltender in Stuart Skinner, who was chased from the Canucks series. However, it seems the Oilers don't feel there's a viable alternative to Skinner and his -10.57 GSAx over the last two playoffs since they weren't willing to trust Calvin Pickard in an elimination game.

Team ratings

Oddsmakers create moneylines based on a numerical valuation of every team. Here's the market's most recent valuation compared to how I have them rated (based on the metrics above) for the full season and post-All-Star break:

Oilers +25% +25.3% +10.7%
Stars +20% +30.1% +16.1%

Edmonton was rated better than Dallas for much of the season, which is why the Stars are only a short favorite despite having home ice and a rest advantage.

Best bet

Here are the prices that would be considered valuable for each team on the road, at home, and to win the series.

Oilers 44.7% +144 +106 +137
Stars 55.3% -117 +115 -112

Some sportsbooks opened at Stars -120. The market is leaning toward Dallas, pushing it further away from a textbook valuable bet. That said, our target price listed above doesn't account for the Stars' rest advantage, while the betting market does.

Our formula liked the Stars at any number against the Golden Knights and the Avalanche, and an 8-4 record at short prices has made them profitable.

Jake Oettinger's bad playoff moments have been few and far between, though his occasional poor games have led to losses. However, I'd rather sacrifice one game per series on a tough outing than back the team with a consistently subpar netminder.

Edmonton's supporting players finally got going late in Round 2, taking some pressure off Connor McDavid, whose usage was off the charts early on. Was 20 minutes of ice time in Game 7 a sign McDavid wore down? Just one goal - as he had against the Canucks - won't be enough to beat the Stars.

Dallas has outstanding metrics despite scoring on just 10 of its 137 even-strength high-danger chances. The Stars also have a league-best 5-1 road record this postseason. Throw in Peter DeBoer's perfect Game 7 resume, and there's little reason not to like Dallas at a short price for Game 1 and the series. Since they might face the lowest-rated team remaining in the playoffs - the Rangers - the Stars' odds are still long enough to make our first play on a Stanley Cup Champion.

Best bets:
- Game 1: Stars moneyline (-130)
- Stars to win series (-130)
- Stars to win Stanley Cup (+240)

(Stats sources: Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey)

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 social media @mrussauthentic.

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