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Stars vs. Golden Knights predictions: Back Dallas in Game 1 and WCF series against Las Vegas

Odds, picks and predictions for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between Dallas and Vegas.

DALLAS, TEXAS - MAY 15:  Jake Oettinger #29 of the Dallas Stars celebrates after the win over the Seattle Kraken in Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 15, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - MAY 15: Jake Oettinger #29 of the Dallas Stars celebrates after the win over the Seattle Kraken in Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 15, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)Read moreRichard Rodriguez / Getty Images

Dallas vs. Vegas is your Western Conference Final, so we have Stars vs. Golden Knights predictions and picks to share.

A warm-weather team will lift Lord Stanley’s Cup this season, which is always weird, but either of these squads would be deserving. Dallas has a loaded roster, while Vegas is the best 5-on-5 team in the playoffs.

Unfortunately for the Knights, I love the Stars in this series.

Odds courtesy of FanDuel, current at time of writing and subject to change.

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Stars vs. Golden Knights Prediction: Pick

  1. Stars ML (+105) | Play to (+100)

    1. Lean: Dallas Stars win Game 1 and Series (+220)

Stars vs. Golden Knights Prediction: Analysis

The Stars have more top-end talent. Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson have powered Dallas all season, while Tyler Seguin has stepped up during the playoff run (6.1 Expected Goals, fifth among playoff players).

Included in that analysis is Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger. Unfortunately, last year’s playoff hero is struggling, checking in as one of the worst playoff netminders by Goals Saved Above Expected.

That said, Oettinger’s upside is too high. He’s put together masterful performances during the first two rounds (Game 5 against Minnesota), so the form has peaked through the inconsistencies.

Either way, I’ll take Oettinger’s potential over Adin Hill on the sport’s biggest stage. Vegas’ Hill is working on an impressive playoff run, especially with Laurent Brossoit sidelined, but I’m not ready to trust a 27-year-old with 88 career starts with a Stanley Cup spot on the line.

I’m banking that Oettinger’s poor play, and Hill’s strong play, are anomalies. Eventually, both players should regress toward their true talent levels, and that’d be a monster advantage for Dallas.

Moving on: The Knights have been the best 5-on-5 team during these playoffs, checking in with a +1.71 Goal Differential per 60, per Evolving Hockey’s metrics.

Yet, I’m not buying it.

» READ MORE: Hurricanes vs. Panthers series prediction: How we’re betting the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals

The Knights also check in with the playoff’s seventh-best even-strength Expected Goals Share by Money Puck’s metrics. Even Evolving Hockey admits there’s some luck to their numbers, given three playoff teams rank above the Knights in even-strength Expected Goal Differential per 60.

Of those three teams, Dallas checks in at first. Per Evolving Hockey, “no team has allowed fewer chances at even-strength (2.1 xGA/60) or controlled chances better” through the first two rounds.

That’s the key to this series. Suppose Dallas can contain Vegas’ 5-on-5 attack while simultaneously giving Oettinger room to breathe. In that case, this series should be a (relative) cakewalk for the Stars, especially since the Stars are significantly better on the Power Play and Penalty Kill.

That’s exactly how this matchup has played out. The Stars have won the past four meetings with the Knights, including sweeping this year’s three-game regular-season set. Three of the four games finished as one-goal affairs, but the Stars put the clamps on the Knights in each game, never allowing more than two goals.

You should see a similar result in this Western Conference Final.

Vegas knocked off the West favorites in Edmonton, while it took Dallas seven games to knock off Seattle, so it’s easy to buy into the Knights, given recency bias. But this is a different matchup and series, and this one favors Dallas.

So, I’m looking to buy the Stars. That includes Game 1, and I might throw some cash on a Dallas Game 1/Series ML parlay, which you can snag at FanDuel Sportsbook for good plus-money odds.

Stars vs. Golden Knights odds (via FanDuel)

  1. Moneyline: Stars (+105) vs. Golden Knights (-126)

  2. Spread: Stars +1.5 (-255) vs. Golden Knights -1.5 (+205)

  3. Total: Over 5.5 (-110) | Under 5.5 (-110)

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