Keys to the Western Conference Finals
By: Joe Borek (@jjborek26)
Wow, what playoffs full of excitement. Game sevens galore and now onto the Western Finals that start tonight Sunday as I type this, at 8 PM. In this article, we will examine the keys for each team to winning the Conference Finals and advancing to the ever-coveted Stanley Cup. So without further ado, let us examine just how Vegas and Dallas could advance to the Stanley Cup.
Dallas Stars— The Stars just need to keep living by a daily saying for most people. That saying is to keep it simple. The Stars have done a much better job at doing so in the playoffs now balancing scoring with good defense and goaltending. To beat the Golden Knights, Dallas will have to continue its top-notch play. Vegas is a very deep team. Therefore, Dallas has to be ready to defend all four lines. Where on the Avalanche series, they could primarily focus on two lines. So will the Stars be able to match the one to four line play of the Golden Knights? Only time will tell. What we can say for certain is they need Khudobin to continue to impress or Bishop come back and play like Bishop. Also, how bout Joel Kiviranta. Who said hockey was hard. Not him, as he potted a hatty in game seven to clinch the Series for the Stars. He, Gurianov, Pavelski, Benn, etc. are going to key on offense if the Stars want to get past the offensively touted Knights. The keys on defense primarily are the two young studs and their goaltender. Look for Heiskanen and Klinberg to continue to dominate in this series, win or lose. Highlights of the Stars can be seen below.
Golden Knights — Well, that was an eventful series for the Golden Knights against the Canucks. Thatcher, the Snatcher Demko, almost beat them himself. However, logic prevailed, and the Knights were able to outlast the Canucks. They will be back. This is just the beginning of Vancouver. They will be back next year and better than ever. For Vegas, however, having to scratch and claw to win to me is an advantage for them. This is because, against Dallas, you are going to need to do the same to beat them. Having a stellar, exciting series with the Canucks should help Vegas because there is no chance they should be coming out flat at all. That goes for both teams who just rallied to win in each of their game sevens. Significant addition at the deadline, Robin Lehner has been money for the Knight with three shutouts this postseason. Then Stone, Tuch, Smith, Pacioretty, etc. have to continue their good and seemingly steadily improving play to take down the Dallas Stars. The Stars have found their scoring touch so, D-Men like Theodore, Martinez, Whitecloud, who has stepped up big time, need to be crucial in this series as well. Look for Vegas to push the anty early in this one. They run their lines four deep with speed. They are going to try to push the tempo on Dallas, most likely causing them to have to respond and figure it out. Highlights of the flying Golden Knights can be seen below.
As for a series prediction, I believe the Knights will just be a little too much for Dallas, and they will take the series in six games.