NHL playoff picks: Stars to shine brighter in Game 1
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We closed out Round 2 on a winning note, finishing 11-7 with our posted game bets and 3-1 with our Eastern and Western Conference series bets.

Let's keep this train chugging into the conference finals.

Dallas Stars (+150) @ Vegas Golden Knights (-170)

These teams unleashed a world of frustration Friday night in their respective Game 7s after they each blew a 3-1 series leads. Both the Stars and Knights were scoring goals for fun all playoffs until they were stonewalled by a third- and second-string goaltender, respectively. With their Stanley Cup hopes hanging in the balance, Joel Kiviranta and Shea Theodore ensured there was no fairytale ending for Michael Hutchinson and Thatcher Demko, respectively.

That sets the scene for what should be an entertaining conference finals between the two remaining top-ranked teams in goals for per 60 minutes. The Stars have scored five or more times in seven of their 13 postseason games, while the Knights lead all playoff teams with a rate of 3.49 expected goals for per 60 minutes. To put into perspective just how outrageous that number is, the Avalanche were the only other playoff team above 3.00, with the Islanders sitting third at 2.87.

Of course, there's a difference between expecting to score and actually scoring. Vegas has come in under its expected goals total in six games since the start of Round 1. The Knights fell short of their expected goals for total in their series against the Blackhawks (15 scored, 17.44 expected) and the Canucks (19 scored, 26.69 expected). As good as this team is at generating offense, its finishing has been sporadic.

That's a luxury Vegas can't afford against the Stars, who excel at suppressing offense at five-on-five. Dallas won't afford the Knights nearly as many opportunities as they had against Chicago and Vancouver - two of the most porous defenses in the playoffs.

Vegas has also allowed the fewest shots against per 60 minutes (24.41) in the postseason, but that's partly a product of facing two of the worst teams in that regard. The Stars are fourth among playoff teams in shots per 60 minutes. The Knights are an incredibly deep team and a puck-possession juggernaut, but Dallas is a step up in class for the Western Conference favorites and represents too much value to pass up in Game 1.

Pick: Stars (+150)

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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NHL playoff picks: Stars to shine brighter in Game 1
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