And then there were four. The Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, and Vegas Golden Knights are the handful of teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One of those teams will win the Stanley Cup.
The Eastern Conference Finals got going on Thursday night when the Florida Panthers paid a visit to the Carolina Hurricanes for game one.
In quadruple overtime, the Florida Panthers won the game by a final score of 3-2. Matthew Tkachuk scored right as the fourth overtime was about to end. It was the sixth-longest game in NHL history. That is obviously a huge win for them after all that effort.
Now, it is time for the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights to get going. This is a series between two elite teams that have a lot of skill all over the ice.
It is going to be very telling when it comes to how the series is going to go. You can imagine that there will be a lot of hard-fought games that go both ways.
The Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars are both amazing teams right now.
Each team is elite in almost every facet of the game. Both of them have high-end skill and lots of toughness where it matters most.
Both of these teams have some high-end players at the forward position. Roope Hintz leads the way for the Dallas Stars. He enters the series with 19 points. Behind him, you have other amazing stars like Jason Robertson, Max Domi, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn leading the way.
Their depth up front is also incredibly notable as well. A rookie like Wyatt Johnston had the game-winning goal in game seven over the Seattle Kraken on Monday night. Other players like Mason Marchment, Evgenii Dadonov, and Joel Kiviranta have made some impactful plays as well.
As for the Vegas Golden Knights, they have Jack Eichel leading the way for them. He is their team leader in the postseason for goals, assists, and points. Mark Stone isn’t far behind him as they are legit Conn Smythe Trophy candidates at this point.
Their depth at forward is equal to that of the Dallas Stars if not more. Chandler Stephenson, Jonathan Marchessault, Ivan Barbashev, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith are all great and will be noticeable in this series.
The defense of both teams is very deep. Miro Heiskanen of the Dallas Stars is the best of them all on either team. With guys like Esa Lindel, Ryan Suter, and Thomas Harley back there as well, there is no wonder why they are so good.
For Vegas, Alex Pietrangelo is their number one. Like Heiskanen, he leads his team in points from the back end. Shea Theodore, Zach Whitecloud, and Alec Martinez amongst others are all there as well. Those guys aren’t relied on offense as much but they make it very hard to play against them.
Both teams aren’t as heavily in need of points from the back end but a lot of these guys make a great first pass which allows the forwards to do their work. In addition to that, both units do a great job protecting the house and their goaltenders appreciate it.
Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars is one of the very best goaltenders in the National Hockey League. He has been pulled twice in these playoffs but nobody is perfect when we get to this time of year. He has a 2.75 GAA and a .903 save percentage.
Oettinger in recent games has been much better and has looked like his regular-season self. When needed, Scott Wedgewood has been there as well.
The Golden Knights have used two goalies in the playoffs as well. Laurent Brossoit hasn’t been amazing but Adin Hill has been a breakout star. He has a 2.19 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
Based on pedigree, you’d say that Dallas has the edge in goaltending but Adin Hill has actually been considerably better during these playoffs. Both guys are going to need to put on a big show in this series if they want to win.
There is actually no conclusion to make here. Both teams are the final two in their conference for a reason. Both of them have elite talent in every area. It is going to come down to who executes once the puck drops in these games. It could go either way.