Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knight Predictions
The Dallas Stars have a chance to clinch their spot in the Stanley Cup Final in Game Five against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Stars entered the series as tremendous underdogs, but due to solid defense, timely scoring and tremendous goaltending, they are now in the driver's seat and look to advance to the Finals for the first time since 2000.
All four games in this series have gone under the total, leading the oddsmakers to finally take away the hook and make the total a flat 5 instead of 5.5. These teams have combined for just 12 goals in four games in this series. My expert math skills tells me that equals an average of three goals a game.
Only eight of these goals have been scored at even strength. Vegas in particular has scored just three goals at 5v5 in this series, equaling less than a goal a game. You can say the teams are getting unlucky, but in terms of expected goals, they’ve only combined for 13 expected goals through four games as well. These results line-up well with the quality and quantity of chances these teams are generating.
Game Three represented a potential turning point, but I was wrong when I thought it was a sign of things to come. After the teams combined for 4.32 expected goals in Game three, the expectation was that the offenses would get going. However, in Game Four, the teams went back to generating very little combining for just 2.74 expected goals.
First and foremost, the goaltending in this series has been awesome. Anton Khudobin has played all four games in net for Dallas, and he’s only been beaten six times on 125 shots, good for an incredible .952 save percentage. The Vegas duo of Robin Lehner (three starts) and Marc-Andre Fleury (one start) has posted a not-quite-as good but still extremely impressive .935 save percentage. For comparison, league average is between .910 and .915.
Vegas’ goal-scoring issue goes back even prior to this series. If you recall, Vegas almost blew a 3-1 series lead to the Vancouver Canucks because they scored just one even-strength goal against a goalie in the last three games of that series. Combining the two series, in the last 7 games, Vegas has scored just nine goals and been shutout two times.
One reason for the Golden Knights’ struggles is the lack of production from their top players. Max Pacioretty led the team in goals during the regular season but he hasn’t scored in seven games. Reilly Smith, the second leading scorer from the regular season, hasn’t scored in ten.
Scoring has been particularly low in the first period of this series. No first period goal has been scored by these teams since John Klingberg scored the first and only goal of Game One. Game Two, Three, and Four all saw the first period end 0-0. This obviously coincides with the low-scoring series in general.
I expect this trend to continue, especially since it’s an elimination game. Vegas will come out hard in the first period as their desperation level will be high. Dallas has proven the ability to defend them and keep their high danger chances lower than expected. Anton Khudobin has been awesome. Vegas is snake-bitten and can’t score if their life depended on it.
If you expect Vegas to come out strong, but expect them to continue to struggle to score, it bodes well for a low scoring first period. I don’t expect Dallas to take many chances. Their first priority will be to weather the early storm of Vegas.
The pressure of an elimination game, the favorited team being on the brink of early elimination, and the defensive and goaltending prowess here makes my favorite bet the first period under.
PICK: 1st Period Under 1.5 Goals (-139)