2024-05-10 · 2 min read · NHL/Hockey
Connor McDavid and Miro Heiskanen

Getty Images | Steph Chambers via Getty

The Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers will meet for the ninth time and first since 2003, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they face off in the Western Conference Final. Each had a tremendous second half to the regular season. The Oilers (31-12-5, 67 points) and Stars (30-12-5, 65 points) were the top two teams in standings points among West teams after Jan. 1. I am expecting a tough, fast paced, high scoring series 
The Stars are coming off two tough series, defeating the last two Stanley Cup champs, the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games in the first round and the Colorado Avalanche in six in the second. Since eliminating the Avalanche last Friday they've been able to get some rest and practice time. After cruising to a five-game win against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, the Oilers went to seven in a second round battle with the Vancouver Canucks, winning the final two games of the series to advance. On special teams the Oilers have been dominant posting the best power play (37.5%) and penalty kill (91.4%) of the postseason, meanwhile the Stars sit 4th on the PP (29%) but a worrying 11th (69.2%) on the PK; if the penalty kill does not improve immediately the Oilers will exploit it.
For the Stars a key factor is if Roope Hintz will play and at what level after he missed games 5 and 6 against the Avalanche due to an upper body injury. Hintz had 1.26 points per game (24 in 19 games) to lead the Stars last postseason. He would give them unmatched center depth among the remaining playoff teams, with him being their No. 1 option. In order to win the Stars need to avoid penalties and continue to get high levels of scoring from multiple lines. The Stars have nine players who have at least six points this postseason; their depth is impressive.
The Oilers need to continue what they did in their last two games against the Canucks and the whole Kings series, limit shots, control possession and generate offence at a high level (a winning formula for any team). The high level of the teams overall play has shown on the score sheet, where names other than Conner McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were present often. Guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evan Bouchard and Dylan Holloway have been huge. Yes, balance and depth are two words that come up a lot in the playoffs, but for good reason, if Evander Kane can get going as well the Oilers have plenty; and two of the games superfluous players. Dallas has a great team with playoff experience and could totally win, but if the Oilers can continue to protect Skinner and keep their stars hot it's tough to see them losing a 7 game series.
Pick - Oilers in 6
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By: Chase Howard


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