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Stars and Oilers – Conference Finals Preview

Is this the year Edmonton puts everything together?

Last night, we saw the Panthers and Rangers open the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden. Tonight, we get the Stars and Oilers doing battle in Dallas. It’s a series that many people predicted at the beginning of the postseason, and now that it’s here, we can’t wait to watch the drama unfold. Both rosters are full of players that are very deserving of a chance at the Cup, but for one team, the dream will unfortunately end early. Today, we’ll preview this Western Conference Finals with what to expect in the series from both Dallas and Edmonton.

The Stars

Dallas is the Stanley Cup favorite right now, but their edge in the sportsbooks is an extremely small one. Unlike Edmonton, the Stars have had to go through two playoff tested teams in Colorado and Vegas, the last two Stanley Cup champions. They’ve got a great mix of veteran experience and young skill, and they’re probably the deepest team left in the playoffs. All of that was on full display in the first two rounds, as they took Vegas in seven games and Colorado in 6. 

The Stars are getting contributions from a lot of guys up front right now, but their leading scorer comes from the back end. Miro Heiskanen has been terrific in the postseason with thirteen points in thirteen games, and he’ll need to be just as effective in the upcoming series against Edmonton. Although Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are a challenge unlike any other, it does help that the Stars have gone through players like Jack Eichel, Nathan Mackinnon and Cale Makar to get here. If the Stars want to come out of this series, Heiskanen will need to continue his dominant play on both ends of the ice. 

Outside of their star defenceman, Dallas is a bit of a committee on offence. With their depth, they’re able to run three scoring lines, and whoever isn’t going up against Draisaitl or McDavid will be a very tough matchup for Edmonton. That matchup might just be the key to this series. Dallas will most likely get the better goaltending, and unless Edmonton’s special teams can singlehandedly win them games, the advantage at forward in five-on-five play should play a massive role.

The Oilers

Edmonton has been a legitimate contender in the eyes of the public for a while now, but they’re still seeking their first trip to the Cup since 2006. Their top players have been awesome, but to get through this series, they may need to see a little more production from their depth guys. In twelve playoff games so far, only five forwards have more than four points. Of course, this is easier said than done, but against a team like Dallas, it might just be necessary. 

Obviously, this team goes how Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl go. Edmonton’s dynamic duo currently lead the playoffs in scoring and play a very large role in the league’s best powerplay. Although Vancouver was eventually able to slow down the man advantage, the Oilers will need to cash in all series long on the PP. Dallas is disciplined, but when they do slip up, it’s imperative that the Oilers get on the board. Given the fact that Dallas’ penalty kill is easily the worst left in the playoffs, this matchup will be a very interesting one. 

When it comes to keeping the Stars off the sheet, all eyes will be on Stuart Skinner. He hasn’t been terrific in the postseason thus far, but after missing Games 4 and 5 against Vancouver, he did come back with two solid performances to finish the series on top. With Dallas most likely throwing a lot more pucks on net than the Canucks did, Skinner will have to be sharp. Calvin Pickard was a decent option in Skinner’s absence, but he’s probably not the long-term option they’d love to go with. 

Stars and Oilers – The Pick

At the end of the day, the Stars and Oilers are both very good teams. However, if I had to make a pick for this series, I’d go with DALLAS IN SIX. I give the Stars the edge because they’re deeper at forward and are supported by better goaltending. Edmonton’s special teams unit could certainly turn this series on its head, but I just don’t see the experienced Stars team taking a lot of penalties when they know the danger that waits if they do.  Of all the teams that played two rounds, they took the least amount of penalty minutes by a considerable margin, and I expect that to continue into this one with the Oilers. 

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