NHL 9/4 betting preview. A day of game 7’s

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There is nothing like Game 7 especially in hockey as part of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and we are in for a Friday treat with a pair of Game 7’s in the Western Conference Semifinals to determine who will do battle in the Western Conference Finals. Let’s break down these two exciting games from a betting perspective.

Dallas Stars vs. Colorado Avalanche – Game 7 (Series tied 3-3)

The Colorado Avalanche have roared back from a 3-1 series deficit winning back-to-back games taking Game 5 and game 6 of this series by a combined score of 10-4. Colorado has played a much more structured and improved defensive game. The Avalanche are also getting goal scoring from all their top players and each of their top two lines. Nathan MacKinnon produced one goal and two points in Game 6 and extended his point streak to 14 games while winger Mikko Rantanen has consecutive multi-point games and a current nine-game point streak. Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky have also stepped up and produced offensively for Colorado and the contributions from them on the second line make this team infinitely more dangerous and a tougher matchup for opposing teams defensively. 

While Colorado is getting offense from their best forwards, Dallas didn’t get that same production from their top players in the 4-1 loss in Game 6. Stars head coach Rick Bowness was sure to point that out to them: “Need them to produce, simple as that. That’s what we talked about after the game. Their top players are producing and our top players are not.” The trio of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov for Dallas has just a single point between them in the last two games. Seguin and Corey Perry are both without a point in three straight games and Radulov are without a point in four straight games. If that pattern continues, it’s unlikely Dallas will see their season extend beyond Game 7. Colorado and Dallas have both struggled in recent Game 7’s and both will be looking to fare better this time around. Colorado lost a Game 7 in the second round against San Jose last year and Dallas coughed up a 3-2 series lead to St. Louis also in the second round last season. They eventually lost that series to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in seven games.

I have concerns that Michael Hutchinson can get it done in a game of this magnitude and the status of Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog for this game is unknown. All that being said, I thought Colorado would win the series before it started and I really like the momentum they have heading into Game 7 off two impressive wins in a row. I will back them at a moderate -135 price. Game 6 finally brought the first under of the series with Colorado’s 4-1 win. Prior to that, each of the first five games of the series cashed over tickets. l think we revert back to a higher scoring game here expecting Dallas top players to answer the call and play much better after having a couple of subpar games. The Stars are still averaging 3.2 goals per game since play resumed in August and the Avalanche have averaged 4 goals per game during that span. The over is 7-1 in Dallas last eight games and 8-1 to the over in Colorado’s last nine games. I’ll bet this game over once again as well.

Colorado -135

Dallas/Colorado Over 6 -105

Vancouver Canucks vs. Vegas Golden Knights – Game 7 (Series tied 3-3)

What a turnaround in this series for the Vancouver Canucks! They came out of Game 4 of this trailing 3-1 in the series following a 5-3 loss and appeared to be on the verge of a quick exit at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights. All of a sudden, Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom was ruled out for Game 5 with a groin injury leading to Thatcher Demko having to take over in between the pipes. It seemed almost inevitable that Vegas would end the series but Demko provided a spark and acted as a life preserver for the Vancouver Canucks season notching incredible performances in two straight games stopping 90 of 91 shots in Game 5 and Game 6 which were 2-1 and 4-0 victories for the Canucks. The team has changed their style a bit to help out Demko in that they are blocking more shots, keeping a lot of shots and chances from Vegas to the outside and playing a more simple game. Vancouver usually doesn’t mind playing a ‘rush game’ and trading chances up and down the ice with their opponent but they are playing more conservative right now since the goalie switch. 

It has clearly gotten to the point of frustration for Vegas that in the last two games they only have a single goal on 91 shots against Demko including an 0-for-7 on the power play showing for the Golden Knights. The only goal during that span for Vegas was scored by defenseman Shea Theodore and the Golden Knights have not gotten much production from their top forwards. Mark Stone hasn’t scored in three straight games. Reilly Smith is on a five game goal scoring drought. William Karlsson has just one goal in his last eight games and Jonathan Marchessault is without a point in five straight games. They will have to find a way to work extra harder to bury their scoring chances against a goalie surging with confidence right now in Thatcher Demko for Vancouver. 

The Canucks have gotten their top players to produce for them as J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Tyler Toffoli have been among Vancouver’s best forwards in this series and all of them have made a significant impact and produced offensively for the Canucks. That quartet of Vancouver players has 21 points combined in the first six games of this series and in the last two games, we have seen them outperform the Golden Knights top players offensively. Robin Lehner has started all but one game in this series in net for Vegas but after two straight losses and with Game 7 being played on the second day of back-to-back games, there is a good chance that Vegas head coach opts to go with Marc-Andre Fleury in net in my opinion for this game to try. It would be an attempt to change the momentum and Fleury did start the previous time these teams played the second of two straight games in as many days in this series and Fleury led Vegas to that 5-3 win in Game 4. 

I don’t have as strong of an opinion on this game unlike the first Game 7 between Dallas and Colorado. I could only lean toward Vancouver at the inflated price considering Vegas will be a heavy favorite of more than -200 on the moneyline in this game as they’ve been all series and yet Vancouver hasn’t exactly looked like an underdog deserving of being priced in that range. Thatcher Demko in particular is clearly starting to get in Vegas head a little bit and the Canucks confidence level should be there for this game. The one concern I have is that Vegas is a very strong 10-3 on the second of back-to-back games and Vancouver is just 5-7 in that spot. This series has evolved into a tighter checking, low scoring series in the two games since Demko took over in net for Vancouver. I still lean over with the total possibly being lined lower at 5.5 for this game but Vegas is firing blanks right now and for that reason, I’ll likely stay off the total.

Leans only:

Vancouver ML

Vancouver/Vegas Over

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