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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Western Conference Finals

Hunter Skoczylas breaks down and offers betting insight on the Western Conference Finals.

Seattle Kraken v Dallas Stars - Game Seven Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

With the Conference Finals matchups set in stone, your Western Conference Finals features the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars — a 2020 Western Conference Finals rematch. The Golden Knights have topped the Winnipeg Jets in five games and most recently the Edmonton Oilers in six games — handling Connor McDavid and the strong offensive attack quite well. The Stars beat the Minnesota Wild in six games and the Seattle Kraken in seven games to get to this point.

As we enter the third round, which team has what it takes to make it to the end and have a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup? Let’s dive right into how this series has looked based on betting odds and trends via DraftKings Sportsbook.

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DraftKings Sportsbook Western Conference Finals Preview

Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights had quite the task to control McDavid and company after facing an inferior Jets squad the series before. Vegas, led by Jack Eichel (14 points) and Mark Stone (12 points), has handled its opponents well this postseason, averaging 3.7 goals per game — the highest average of the remaining playoff teams. The Golden Knights have allowed just 13 high-danger chances against so far this postseason but have taken a step back on special teams posting the worst penalty kill (60.0%) and power play percentages (17.5%) of the remaining playoff teams. While the defense has been relatively impressive after handling Edmonton’s offense, it will come down to how well the goaltending can hold up for another series against strong forward lines.

Dallas Stars

Although they’ve played 13 games already this postseason, the Stars remain dominant and filled with talent from top-to-bottom. Dallas produces goals at nearly the same rate as Vegas, averaging 3.6 goals per game so far and has a very deep offensive attack. Most recently, veteran Joe Pavelski (10 points) produced eight goals himself against the Kraken last series. The Stars will likely take advantage in the special teams department, posting a 31.7% power play percentage and an 83.3% penalty kill percentage, an area the Golden Knights will continue to struggle in. Possibly the biggest story is how well Jake Oettinger, who posts just a .903 save percentage so far, will play this series because he has noticeably struggled this postseason and cost the Stars some close games.

Golden Knights-Stars Series Props

Based on betting odds on DraftKings Sportsbook, this series features two consistent and well-rounded squads that can make opponents pay on either side of the ice. With the Golden Knights handling the Oilers’ high-powered offense, it won’t get that much easier against the Stars, who have six skaters with at least four goals this postseason led by Roope Hintz (19 points). It’s hard to believe Jack Eichel (14 points) is playing the way he is with no playoff experience but he leads his team in points and it’s going to come down to how well these stars play. Eichel and Hintz are the clear front-runners to score the most goals in this series and should be worth consideration when placing any series player props.

These two teams met in this same spot in 2020, where the Stars won the series in five games. The Golden Knights roster is much better and Eichel has the tools to take his team to the Stanley Cup but the Stars won’t be easy to top. They’ve scored the most goals this postseason and have plenty of depth to take advantage of the Golden Knights’ weaknesses on the power play. All in all, this series is going to be a dogfight and it would be very surprising to see it end in less than six games. Vegas’ goaltending can be suspect at times which could allow Dallas to steal games but Oettinger’s goaltending is nowhere near the level from previous postseason runs.

As for any future bets, DraftKings Sportsbook favors the Golden Knights (+260) over the Stars (+310) to win it all. Vegas’ handling of Edmonton is far more impressive than Dallas’ two opponents but it’d be hard to not consider Dallas to advance and win the Stanley Cup. The Stars have the upper hand in terms of both depth and experience but also have been able to score a ton of goals. If betting to go all the way to the end isn't intriguing, consider the over on the over/under for the series goal total. Currently set at 33.5, if the series lasts till six or seven games, this total will be an easy one to cash.

Place your NHL bets at DraftKings Sportsbook or by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

All odds are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is huntersk) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.