This article is part of our NHL Picks series.
NHL Betting: Expert Picks and Series Breakdown for Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals
While the Western Conference Final matchup may come as a surprise to some, it shouldn't come as a shock. Sure, most analysts predicted that at least the Oilers or the Avalanche, if not both, would be facing off in this penultimate round before the Stanley Cup. A few even suggested that the Golden Knights were on upset watch in the First Round against the Jets, but Vegas squashed that with a dominating 5-game series win only to follow that up with a convincing 6-game series win over the vaunted Oilers. The Stars have no doubt been battle-tested, with a hard-fought First Round series against the Wild and a coin-flip 7-game series with the Kraken. But Dallas rose to every occasion and battled through the adversity that so many Cup-winning teams seem to go through. As we gear up for the Western Conference Final, both of these teams seem to have the tools to go all the way. Let's look at the matchup in-depth with some of the best bets on the board.
NHL Western Conference Finals Odds: Golden Knights vs Stars
- Las Vegas -140
- Dallas +120
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Both teams are strong 5-on-5. The Golden Knights controlled most of the even-strength play in both of their series, even against the Oilers in the Second Round which is no small feat with Edmonton's high-powered attack. Both teams can roll all 4 forward lines at you and have sturdy defensive units patrolling the blue line. Special teams have not been very special for the Golden Knights, but the Stars have a suffocating penalty kill that ranks second only to that of the Hurricanes out of the teams that advanced out of the First Round. Dallas is also hitting at a 31.7% clip on the power play. When Vegas stayed out of the box, they were the better team against Edmonton, but when they didn't they lost. Will they be able to avoid penalty problems against a hard-nosed Stars' forecheck and high-flying attack? This could be one of the difference makers in the series to keep an eye on.
The Stars seem to have a clear advantage in goal. Jake Oettinger might be the best goalie remaining in the playoffs, and if there is a question mark to point to in Vegas, it's in net. Laurent Brossoit was playing well but suffered an injury early against Edmonton, and Adin Hill came in to finish the series off. Hill's played admirably, but can he stand tall against a Stars' offense that is potting 3.62 goals per game in these playoffs? I give the edge to Oettinger.
This should be a tight series and I expect it to go at least 6 games if not 7. Vegas has been gaining momentum the more they've played, and the Stars have answered the bell anytime they've faced adversity. Both are recipes for postseason success, but I'm going to bet on the Stars. Peter Deboer was behind the bench in Vegas until he got fired at the end of last season, so I think he knows how to scheme against them better than perhaps anyone in the league. Oettinger has the talent to steal playoff games all by himself too, so when push comes to shove, I'm favoring the better goaltender.
Best Bets for Stars vs. Golden Knights
- Series winner: Stars +120
NHL Western Conference Finals Player Props
There's no shortage of firepower on either bench in this series, so so of the Series Player Props are looking juicy. Roope Hintz is playing at a Conn Smythe caliber right now and has 19 points in 13 games, which is most on the Stars and most out of any player remaining in the Conference Finals. He's got a good H2H prop with Mark Stone that I'm liking.
Most Points In Series - Roope Hintz vs Mark Stone
- Roope Hintz -135
Joe Pavelski got literally knocked out of the First Round in Game 1, but returned to the lineup in the Second Round and scored eight goals in seven games, with four in his Game 1 return. He might be the best shot-tipper in the league, and his craftiness around the net is elite. Goals are scored in the dirty areas at this stage of the postseason, which bodes well for Pavelski's style of game.
Player Goals Props
- Joe Pavelski to Score 3+ Goals in Series +100
And although I think Mark Stone is an excellent player, I bet more of his focus will be on the defensive side of the ice in this series. Stone's only got 5 goals in his 11 playoff games, so I'm taking an H2H flyer on Pavelski here too.
H2H Goals - Most Goals in Series - Joe Pavelski vs Mark Stone
Joe Pavelski -150