NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 9/10/20

As you approach the finals in any sport, games start to take on a whole new meaning. The prospects of winning it all become so much more tangible and, in my experience, we start to see teams playing not to lose, rather than to win. That might help explain why five of the last seven games have stayed under the total, including three of four in the Conference Finals.

Here's a look at tonight's action!

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Stars +1.5 (-190): 4-Star Rating Out of 5

Under 5.5 (-130): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

The Dallas Stars haven't exactly been using last change to their advantage so far in the bubble. As the "home" team, Dallas has dropped four of seven contests and has been outscored 26-19. But it does appear that the Stars are using last change to neutralize their opponents.

In seven "home" games, Stars opponents are averaging 24.7 scoring chances and 11.7 high-danger chances, while being held to nine or fewer high-danger chances in four of those seven games. Those numbers inflate to 27.6 and 12.4 when the Stars are the "road" team. Line matching will be critical to neutralizing a potent Vegas Golden Knights lineup. We can expect the Stars to take advantage of last change, as they have since the playoffs started.

Dallas has also responded well following a shutout loss this postseason. They've dominated possession and scoring chance metrics and won both games, although both did require extra time.

Vegas has hit a bit of a wall recently. After starting the playoffs on an 8-1 tear, the Golden Knights have lost four of their last eight games.

Robin Lehner has been phenomenal, shutting out opponents in four of his last seven starts, but he has yet to receive the offensive support we've come to expect from Vegas. The Golden Knights have averaged a meager 2.1 goals per game over the eight-game sample and posted a 0.984 PDO. After starting off hot, this recent stretch was likely a correction phase as the Golden Knights worked their way back toward normal ranges.

Although Vegas is back closer to averages, it's hard to imagine them running away with this one. Dallas has shown how stingy they can be with last change and have responded well following a loss, particularly of the shutout variety, this postseason. Vegas has also covered the puckine in back-to-back games just once since postseason play began.

Based on our projections there's a substantial advantage in backing the Stars on the puckline in Game 3. There's a projected 23.2% return taking Dallas +1.5, and it is rated as a four-star play. Not as pronounced but equally as tempting is the under 5.5, which we have rated as a two-star play.