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Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars Western Conference Final Preview

It’s out with the old and in with the new in the Western Conference Finals. Pete DeBoer and the Dallas Stars vs the Vegas Golden Knights, who fired DeBoer almost exactly one year ago. Vegas has had success with new coach Bruce Cassidy, but will they be able to beat an opponent that knows them so well? We’re breaking down some of the biggest keys to this Western Conference final. 

Golden Knights vs Stars Western Conference Final Preview 

History Could Play a Role 

For a team that has only been in existence for six years, the Vegas Golden Knights have a remarkable amount of playoff history. This is Vegas’ fourth Western Conference final appearance in six seasons and will be playing to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time. Despite the limited history, this isn’t even the first time that these teams have played each other in the playoffs. The Golden Knights and the Stars also did battle in 2020, with the Stars coming out the victors after five games. 

There’s another kind of history that could impact the series. Dallas head coach Pete DeBoer was the Vegas head coach from 2018 to 2021, eventually being let go after Vegas missed the playoffs in 2021. DeBoer knows this Vegas team and may be able to exploit their weaknesses more effectively than the Oilers or the Jets were able to. 

More Similarities Than Differences 

This series will be very different from the last one for both the Stars and the Golden Knights. The Stars were facing a scrappy Kraken team, the underdogs of the West. Much of the difficulty in the matchup came from the depth of the Kraken and their ability to find scoring from all over the lineup. Once the Stars got more consistent production from their top guys, they were able to pull out the win. For Vegas, they went up against their most opposite opponent in the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers are the most offensively-minded team in the NHL, and Vegas is much stronger defensively. 

The matchup between the Stars and the Golden Knights will be much more evenly matched. Both teams are strong on both ends of the ice. For the Stars, they’ll be relying on the line of Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and Jason Robertson. The line has been exceptional throughout the playoffs. Pavelski, Hintz, and Robertson all found their scoring grooves, outscoring their opponents 4-0 when on the ice together. At the blue line, Miro Heiskanen is the guy to beat. Heiskanen is excellent when defending the rush, which will be a difficult challenge for the Golden Knights, who thrive on transition chances. 

While the Stars might have more individual talent, the Golden Knights have arguably a deeper core. Vegas has four lines that can roll comfortably and will take advantage of the weaker defensive pairings that come after Heiskanen. Same goes at the other end of the ice – while Heiskanen is arguably the better player, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb and Alec Martinez are a better unit than the Dallas blue line. It will be a tight battle between two good teams. 

Goaltending Disparities

The biggest difference between the two teams lies between the pipes. Jake Oettinger is the top goaltender left in the playoffs and has a wealth of playoff experience to draw upon. However, he was more inconsistent during the Kraken series, letting in a few more goals than fans have come to expect. Oettinger is a clutch player who performs well under pressure and could definitely steal a game or two. 

On the other hand, Vegas will likely stick with Adin Hill, who has been great since coming in to relieve Laurent Brossoit in Game 3 of the Oilers series. He made 39 straight saves to close out Game 6 against the Oilers and is playing with the confidence of a starting goaltender. Despite rotating five different goaltenders throughout the season, Vegas has lost a bit of the depth they had with the injury to Brossoit. Jonathan Quick will most likely be the backup, and he hasn’t seen play action since April 8. Goaltending is the biggest disparity in the series, and Vegas will need Hill to rise to the occasion. 


Vegas wins in six. Vegas’ depth should be able to take advantage of matchups, and if they can get serviceable goaltending from Hill, they’ll be able to pull out the win. However, if the Stars can capitalize on their chances, they might be able to make an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.

Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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