The 2020 Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals will see the third-seeded Dallas Stars take on the top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights, and the opening game of the series is set for Sunday, September 6, at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The Stars and Golden Knights meet each other for the first time in the postseason. They split a two-game regular-season series, while the Knights beat the Stars once in the round-robin tournament in the bubble.
Both teams had to play all seven games in the previous round, promising a thrilling battle in the conference finals, so let’s take a closer look at the most important betting tips and trends for Sunday’s opener along with the best betting pick.
The Stars are without goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Stephen Johns, while winger Andrew Cogliano and defenseman Taylor Fedun are doubtful to play Sunday. The Knights, on the other side, don’t have any injury worries ahead of Game 1.
Vegas opened as a -165 fave on BetAmerica, while Dallas is a +140 moneyline dog. The totals are set at 5.5 goals with the over at -130 odds, and I wouldn’t be surprised if bookies move the line to exactly six goals.
What’s at Stake?
The Stars are in the conference finals for the first time since 2008 when they lost to Detroit. The one-time Stanley Cup champs have reached the playoffs just four times over the last 12 years.
On the other side, the Golden Knights are searching for their second Stanley Cup Finals in three years. Back in 2018, the Knights lost to the Washington Capitals in their first year in the NHL.
Winning Game 1 is a big deal sometimes, but it often means nothing in the NHL playoff series. I expect to see at least six meetings between Dallas and Vegas.
As I’ve said, both teams played seven games in the second round, so there are some tired legs, for sure.
The Stars outlasted the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in overtime of their ultimate second-round encounter. The Knights blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 last Friday.
Interestingly, both Dallas and Vegas blew a 3-1 lead in their second-round series.
Since the Knights joined the league in 2017, they’ve won seven of their nine encounters with the Stars including a 5-3 victory in the bubble on August 3. The under is 5-3-1 in that nine-game stretch.
Vegas blanked Vancouver three times in the previous round, and Robin Lehner posted all three shutouts. The 29-year-old goalie is 8-4 with a 1.99 GAA and .918 save percentage this postseason, and he should get another start Sunday night.
The Golden Knights average 3.27 goals per game over 15 outings this playoff, and defenseman Shea Theodore leads the way with six goals and 10 assists. Wingers Mark Stone and Reilly Smith combined for 10 goals and 18 assists.
Anton Khudobin will guard the cage for the Stars in the opening game of the Western Conference finals, and he’s 8-5 with a 2.94 GAA on the postseason. Khudobin had 40 saves in Game 7 victory over Colorado, and he’s undoubtedly a proper replacement for Ben Bishop.
The Stars exploded offensively in the playoffs, averaging 3.31 goals per game. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen leads the pack with five goals and incredible 16 assists in 16 outings, while wingers Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn combined for 13 goals and 15 dishes.
I was surprised by the Stars’ prolific offense and the Knights’ sturdy defense. Vegas looked sharp for most of the Canucks series, but the Knights still had a few lousy displays.
On the other side, the Stars had to deal with one of the best offenses in the league, so the Western Conference finals should be very, very tight. Therefore, I would avoid the side bet and go with the over on the totals instead.
The Stars and Knights have been pretty efficient over the last few weeks, while Khudobin and Lehner are top-notch goalies each, playing in a good form, especially Lehner. However, the teams’ defenses have shown some serious flaws.