Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NHL Playoff Picks and Predictions - Sunday Game 1

Game 1 - Dallas at Vegas

NHL Playoff Betting Resources

  • Playoffs: Western Conference Finals
  • TV-Time: NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Rogers Place
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

NHL Best Bet
Stars vs. Golden Knights

NHL Odds - Game 1

  • Money-Line: Vegas -160, Dallas +140
  • Puck-Line: Vegas -1.5 (+155), Dallas +1.5 (-175)
  • Total: 6 Over (+100), 6 Under (-120)
  • Series Odds: Vegas -240, Dallas +200

Interestingly enough, as I was watching Vegas finally break through on Thatcher Demko late in Game 7, my first thought was that Game 1 of the Western Final has to be a rather rare occurrence given it's two teams off a Game 7 win.

So that's where my research went as Vegas closed the deal, and it is something that has happened nine times since the 2010 playoffs, and most recently in Game 1 of last year's Western Finals as well. That game saw San Jose take down St Louis 6-3, as it was the Blues who were coming off an OT win in Game 7 that Dallas knows all about.

It was the Stars on the losing end of that Game 7, and now a year later it's them in a post-OT spot that worked out quite horribly for the Blues a year ago.

But when you go through the other eight times we've had a series start after a pair of Game 7's – last year's was the first time it had happened since the 2016 Western Finals between San Jose and St Louis oddly enough – you do see a pattern of fatigue showing up in various forms.

Of those nine total contests, four of them finished with 2-1 or 3-1 scores, with three of the four being the former. Those tended to be contests where the legs were gone and it was just about packing things in and protecting your own net first. Definitely a style to consider both teams wanting to play, but it would likely be a thought process more sided to the Stars taking this Game 1.

Four of the other five total contests that had two teams off a Game 7 win finished with scores of 6-3, 6-0, and 7-3 (twice). The lone outlier game was a ho-hum 3-2 contest back in the earlier rounds of 2013, And those higher scoring games would suggest fatigue really set in on one side as they stopped skating back to see those goal totals popped in against them.

If or who that affects either of these two teams on Sunday is anyone's guess, but you would figure a high-scoring game where fatigue hits one team more would be a likely Vegas ML and 'over' result, although you know that's never a popular outcome behind the counter in Sin City.

So how do you want to invest in it playing out?

Offensively, Vegas could be so happy that they are facing anyone else that's not Thatcher Demko, and the 40+ shots per game they were firing at him could result in six or seven goals alone against the Stars.

Or, Demko could have got in the heads of Vegas so much that their offense remains completely cold the rest of the way. Dallas didn't exactly show it in their series with Colorado, but they are a team that prefers to play defense first.

Head-to-head this year saw Vegas claim a 2-1 SU edge with each team winning a Dallas home game, and Vegas winning the round robin bubble contest. More importantly, all three games had at least five goals scored, and two of the three had 6+.

I am of the belief that if this post-Game 7, Game 1, plays out in one of those two patterns we've seen from teams in this same spot before, I am more inclined to think it will be of the higher scoring variety.

Now nowhere does that mean I would be playing Vegas on the side as well, I just do believe if I told you the game would finish as an 'over', more often it would be Vegas on the right side of it. But Dallas may have found their own offensive game in that Colorado series, and Vegas is a similar team built with speed and puck possession time.

The Stars found success in high-scoring games there, and if they were to put together a couple of early games of 3+ goals, who knows how heavy those flames are fanned on the Golden Knights goalie issues later on in this series.

I would also like to believe it's more likely that a facing a new opponent is going to be freeing for this Vegas offense and their shots will start finding the back of the net once again. There is no more pressure of it being a Game 6, or 7, or them blowing a 3-1 lead, it's a fresh start against a goalie(s) that are nowhere near having their number yet.

Keep doing what they are doing and pucks will start to go in. Colorado showed that you can overwhelm the Stars at time with talent and speed and there aren't many better than Vegas at doing just that.

So I'm siding with this game being one of those contests where maybe we do get a 7-3 game one way as one side falls behind early and shuts it down to rest for Game 2. If that doesn't happen we can always back into a game that backs into at least six goals. That is as long as the tap on the Vegas shooters wasn't permanently closed by Demko. I just can't believe it was. At least not yet.

Best Bet: Over 6 goals

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