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Western Conference Finals preview: Dallas’ defense remains dominant

The Vegas Golden Knights eliminated Edmonton’s star power and now face off against the Stars from Dallas in the Western Conference Finals.

It took until Game 7 on Monday night to set the stage for the Western Conference Finals, but the Dallas Stars were able to eliminate the Seattle Kraken to advance. Now, they’ll face another recently added franchise to the NHL - the Vegas Golden Knights.

WhatNHL: Western Conference Finals - Dallas Stars v Vegas Golden Knights
WhereT-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada and American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas.
WhenFriday, May 19th - Wednesday, May 31st
OddsTo Win Series: DAL Stars +115, VGS Golden Knights -135

Stars show off their strengths

The Kraken proved that their elimination of the defending Stanley Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche in the first round was no fluke, but the Stars relied on what got them to the postseason to win Game 7. That would be goaltender Jake Oettinger.

Their series against Seattle was surprisingly high-scoring until it mattered most. In Game 7, Oettinger and the Dallas defense didn’t allow a single goal until just 19 seconds remaining and, thanks to the incredible 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Roope Hintz, that wasn’t enough to tie up the game.

Hintz has 19 points this postseason, which only trails Connor McDavid, who is now eliminated. Any comparison to the greatest skater in the world is high praise, and the Stars will need Hintz to continue shining bright to earn their second Stanley Cup Final appearance in the last four seasons.

Dallas is currently a slight +115 underdog to win the Western Conference Finals.

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Vegas’ gamble pays off

Despite being a young franchise in the grand scheme of the NHL, Vegas is also no stranger to the Stanley Cup Final. In their inaugural season, the Golden Knights nearly hoisted the Cup but ultimately fell to the Washington Capitals.

Since then, expectations have been high, but they were one of the biggest disappointments of the year last season.

Much of that had to do with injuries and Vegas took a gamble this offseason by trading one of those injury-ridden skaters - Max Pacioretty. They put most of their chips in the Jack Eichel basket, and it’s largely paid off.

The former phenom has been excellent in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, recording 14 points in total, including nine in their last series against McDavid and the Oilers. He’s going to need to keep up his goal-scoring prowess now against an elite goaltender in Oettinger. 

Vegas is the second betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup at +260 odds.

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