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Golden Knights vs. Stars Series Preview & Predictions

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Golden Knights vs. Stars Series Preview & Predictions
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 04: Joel Kiviranta #25 of the Dallas Stars. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP

I tried. I really tried. With these pieces I do my best to offer each team its due. My view is not the only way of approaching a series, but at the end of the day this is not a hockey pool it is sports betting and it always comes back to the number. As I went to bed late last night I came across this thread:

Now in my case, I was just eyeballing the numbers, but there will always be a subconscious bias when doing so. Doesn’t mean it is wrong, just best to come back to it with a clear head. We witnessed two game sevens that were both tied with six minutes left to go.

One featured combatants with an excellent product on the ice and back-n-forth action. The other was a siege for almost the full duration of the game, a go-ahead goal on the powerplay with six minutes left and then a couple of empty-netters.

I like the -160 opening suggestion from the Consigliere…seemed like the type of number a consigliere would offer on this series. However all the responses put the Knights number shorter and shorter, and with some good reasons and some not so good reasons. If you are making a bet amongst friends, giving a 60/40 on a lot of NHL series would be a pretty fair payout when you are eyeballing it. However these are Vegas veterans, traders in an industry that has taken its own city as its label…Vegas.

They know their town, they know who bets there and they know where their liability will be. If these big Nevada books are setting a line shorter than it should be because the fanaticism is alive and well in lieu of any occupants in The Fortress, then, as one gentlemen put it, ‘we will need Dallas’.

Joel Kiviranta #25 of the Dallas Stars. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP

This gambling meca was free from having ‘their team’ in play every week until three years ago next month. That is, a roster their city and state rallied behind with sublime loyalty and, if you follow their social media, fanaticism. That is what has become known as #VegasBorn, and I have a wild theory that it has crept into their hockey market as well. People with deep pockets and a sport they don’t know a lot about. This could make up the difference between setting a 60% line and the current 70%.

I was loud about backing the Blues to their Cup win last year, and even louder after they won. Why? Because NHL many fans and some bettors don’t like defence. They ignore defence. They forget that it matters. Good goaltending and low-scoring games is a sign of weakness. What do they like; flashy offence, fast skaters, goals. This is why everyone feels robbed of seeing the Avalanche and the Golden Knights.

The ONLY series I did not take them to win the series was their second round meeting with the Stars. Here is what I said in the series preview:

Looking over the projections, every single outcome has it going seven games and always with the Blues on top. My personal take is that these two can both play the same no room to breathe style of hockey and either team (I really believe this) could win this in four or five games. The value is entirely on the Stars here and I was certainly surprised by the current line.

That was a 60/40 price and my series wagers were:

  • Stars +1.5
  • Wait to see if Blues fall behind by a game and then get involved

The Stars went up 3-2 and lost in double overtime in game seven. Executed perfectly for us. Coming into this season they were given a season total of 96.5 points and were the focus of some big-name acquisitions, Perry and Pavelski from two California clubs.

While not the same types of players in the least, these two were cornerstones of their prior teams success. They are both passed their prime however, as this post-season has demonstrated, still more than capable of contributing some big goals.

Here are a few notes from my season preview of the Stars:

Since the addition of Tyler Seguin the Dallas Stars have consistently been in the post-season discussion. He was a burgeoning offensive talent that has now offered consistent point production and potency to their top line. The duo of him and Jamie Benn has been one of the most dangerous in the league for the past five seasons.

The reliability of having two players who are point per game players is something that every club envies and has played a significant role in ensuring that they remain afloat in an extremely competitive division. That said, the Stars have yet to show that they are cup contenders in any sort of consistent fashion.

This past season finally saw many pieces of their roster ‘click’. While Benn’s point production dropped off significantly from what he has shown, the Russian talent of Radulov combined with three offensive defencemen certainly made up for it. I am of course referring to Heiskanen, Lindell, and Klingberg. While the Stars present a bit of a top-heavy roster, they have made some off-season acquisitions that could help significantly.

Perry and Pavelski bring experience, offensive threat, and the ability to play in all areas of the ice. For a team that maybe just lacks two of three of those, I love these additions. Combine this with one of the strongest goaltending duos in the league, and you’ve got a team built for the playoffs. Stars fans have every reason to expect their team to do something significant this season.

I closed with comparing Pavelski and Perry to Sharp and Spezza in their benefit to the club, and remarked; “On paper this Dallas Stars team is one of the more well-balanced, playoff-optimal rosters. Season-ending injuries to the likes of Bishop and perhaps Benn or Seguin are the only way I could see this team struggling to make it back to the playoffs.”

We know that Bishop has been replaced by Khudobin, however they are one of the squads that undoubtedly had a 1A/1B split, and have done for two seasons. Khudobin has plenty of regular season experience, but this is his first playoffs with the starting gig.

So far his numbers over thirteen starts have been mediocre, almost ugly by playoff standards, however he has those critical eight wins and plenty of game-saving…ahem, saves. Khudobin has started just one more game then Lehner but has faced 150 more shots over his tests.

Most of us should know the tale of the Golden Knights. The first expansion team in two decades, most casual hockey fans had not heard of more than a few players on their starting roster, and in their inaugural season as a 200:1 price they made it to the Stanley Cup finals losing in five to the Caps.

The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate with Robin Lehner. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP

Their second season in the league they picked up where they left off with solid numbers under Gallant and some talented acquisitions, they ran over the Pacific division once more, and lost in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs to the Sharks…after having a 3-1 series lead, and a 3-0 game seven lead.

I am not even going to bring up the bad major penalty call as a 200% conversion rate, or near to it on 5 minutes of one powerplay, is entirely on the Knights. So Vegas, the fan favorite over the past two seasons, felt jipped of a Cup, or possible run, once more.

The Golden Knights faithful were baptised into the world that is NHL officiating that night:

Every team has a story they could tell like that and it is what an aspect of what makes actually succeeding in lifting the Cup so fruitful…overcoming all obstacle including bad penalties against your team. Alright moving on!

Here is what I had in my Golden Knights preview before 19/20:

An excellent and deep forward core, an average but steady defence, and an outstanding experienced goaltender. So why weren’t the Knights able to replicate?

A slower start out off the gate was the first contrast. A significantly lower offensive output from the combo of Marchessault and Karlsson, who only finished +3 instead of a ridiculous +85 like the season prior. Five losing streaks of 3 games or more, compared with two the season prior and losing seven of their final eight games.

Despite having a healthier Fleury who played 15 more games, they only came out of that with 6 more wins. Pacioretty’s numbers also weren’t up to snuff; 20 goals and assists performance instead of 30 and 30, another season well into the minus.

-While I am excited to see Mark Stone for a full season with the Knights, I am not sure if enough has been done in the off-season. It seems some of the fan-base is a bit perplexed why their team didn’t get more return on the departed players.

They came into the 2019 season with the highest point total in the Pacific by four/five points up to 100.5/101.5 and was the first season total I played under on them in their three years:

I am not as big on the Golden Knights this season as I thought I would be. They’re a good team, but their defence is concerning, their backup goalie is concerning, the ability to repeat Karlsson’s 23% shooting percentage is concerning. The novelty of a team in Vegas will have worn off for most of the League coming into this year.

Last season the Knights had a losing record on the road, teams were ready when they came to town. They scored less, and allowed more goals against. Do I think Vegas is worse than either of the previous seasons? Of course not, but regression does its thing. One of three divisional spots is still theirs to lose. However we finally have a point total that is more probable to play the under on.

When the 2020 season ended they were well on their way to going under that total. In fact, they would have needed to win eight of their final eleven games to break that mark. Possible, but unlikely.

Comparison

Let’s return to that discussion about the series line.

Vegas Golden Knights (line/result)Dallas Stars (line/result)
17/18: 68.5 points/109 points17/18: 97.5 points/92 points
17/18: +20000/Cup Final17/18: +1500/Missed Playoffs
18/19: 97.5 points/93 points18/19: 94.5 points/93 points
18/19: +1400/First Round18/19: +3000/Second Round
19/20: 1.22 ppg needed/1.21 pace19/20: 1.18 ppg needed/1.18 pace
19/20: +900/?19/20: +1700/?

During the regular season the Golden Knights were one of the least profitable teams if you were betting them every game of the year, and only behind the Toronto Maple Leafs of all the teams with winning records. If you have been betting the NHL for a while, alarm bells should be going off in your head.

The Leafs are known as the most ‘public’ team in the league. Being compared to them in this respect is not a good sign and it supports my theory that the Golden Knights have gone from surpassing all expectation and being one of the most profitable teams in their first season, to being an overpriced monstrosity in their third.

Both of these teams have retained approximately 40% of their roster since the start of 2017/2018. Let’s look what they accomplished over those three seasons:

Vegas Golden Knights (line/result)Dallas Stars (line/result)
1.22 season points/game1.14 points per game
24 playoff wins/5 series wins15 playoff wins/3 series wins
3.16 goals for/game2.66 goals for/game
2.84 goals against/game2.57 goals against/game
99.5 PDO100.2 PDO

The one piece that could make sense to me about the pricing is if you look at their respective head-to-head results over the past three years which is an impressive 7-2 (including the round-robin game a month ago).

As EVERY Golden Knights fan should be aware, the franchise achieved their first ever regular season victory against the Stars back in 2017, instantly grabbing the league’s attention while being priced at +190. We have never seen a price remotely similar in the years since between these two, and the Knights have been favored in four of those eight games.

There has only been one game where Vegas has been priced in the ballpark they are for this series, February 26th 2019 when they won 4-1 with two empty-net goals. The Stars were without Benn and on the second game of a road trip. Alright let’s piece together the logic here.

Joe Pavelski
Joe Pavelski – Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images/AFP

In three seasons (of playing each other twice per season), the Golden Knights have only opened shorter, than they are today against the Stars, once. On that occasion the game was in Vegas and the Stars were without their captain. Now Bishop could be the critical piece, however his numbers were nothing impressive against the Knights when he did go.

With Khudobin’s only being marginally worse over two years of data, I am personally not concerned here. So when I began with ‘I tried’ – the try, was my attempt to find value in the Golden Knights line. It isn’t there.

However, with my due diligence I did contact a buddy of mine who is a huge Vegas fan, but does not bet with his heart. He uses statistics and situational trends to make his wagers, however I request he ignore all of that and give me his ‘homer take’.

In other words, I asked unabashedly for his opinion if he was trying to convince his friends that this was their year to win the Cup:

  • VGK has the best 2 goalies in the playoffs currently.
  • VGK leads all playoff teams with 3 shutouts (all by Lehner).
  • VGK leads the remaining teams in avg SOG at 37/game, followed closely by TBL at 35.5/game. This probably contributes to VGK being slight favorites to win this year because the higher SOG avg points to a faster pace of game and the more shots on goal a team gets, the higher probability that they’ll get one into the net sooner or later.
  • VGK also has the lowest allowed SOG in this playoff season at 24.7/game, where the NYI allows an avg of 27.7/game and TAM allows a whooping 32.2/game. This points to VGK likely holding a defensive edge over their Eastern rivals.
  • VGK has a goals scored to goals allowed ratio of 1.4, second only to the NYI and ahead of the TBL at 1.33.
  • VGK is 4-2 SU against TBL in regular season play
  • So if TBL eliminates NYI, I could see the reasons why VGK would be slight favorites over TBL in the SC Finals.
  • In terms of game deciding metrics: goals and shots on goals, VGK does have the slight advantage in all related categories over their presumed opponent of TBL in the Finals.

Reading my friend’s notes I would say you either take the Stars here, or take the Golden Knights to win the Cup. That isn’t my play, however I appreciated the time and insight into how he works a series and futures wagers.

I’ve taken the +1.5, be sure to check which of the best sportsbooks offer this (might only be pinny). With also having the Western Conference winner ticket, I’ll be looking to hedge at 2-1 or 3-2 for the Stars and will tweet it out if I do. The objective will be to get the biggest payout with the smallest risk.

Series Bet:

Dallas+205
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