Today marks the beginning of the third round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, starting with the Western Conference Finals.
In this corner, we have the offensive juggernaut known as the Dallas Stars, who have scored 53(!) times this postseason. They are led by their fearless leader, Joel Kiviranta, who is coming off of an overtime hat trick winner against the Colorado Avalanche. As expected for someone whose name gets mentioned alongside Wayne Gretzky.
In the other corner, we have the top-seed Vegas Golden Knights, who are also coming off a Game 7 victory after nearly blowing a 3-1 series lead. They are led by Robin Lehner, who posted three shutout wins against the Vancouver Canucks yet wasn’t best goaltender in the series. Sorry, Thatcher Demko — maybe next year.
Who will win? Who will go home? And, more importantly, who will predict the result correctly? Let’s get ready to rumble!
Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs Dallas Stars (3)
Taylor: I know the sexy thing to do will be to pick the Stars after they dispatched a Stanley Cup favorite in the Colorado Avalanche. But the team struggled against a lineup that was lacking its top two goaltenders, several key forwards, their captain, and were playing Michael Hutchinson in net. Vegas has none of those factors going for them. Golden Knights in 6.
Robert: Vegas is a healthy beast, and the Stars are confusingly beastly. They won’t screw up a 3-1 lead this time, though. I personally promise this, and I have never been wrong. Stars in 5.
Logan: Given how the Stars started the playoffs, I had almost zero confidence that they could make it out of the first round, let alone survive against Colorado. The surge in offensive production from Denis Gurianov, Alexander Radulov, and Joel Kiviranta definitely made the difference in kick-starting the rest of the lineup. Vegas is riding a scary-good goaltender tandem and consistent production, so this series won’t be easy. However, Dallas winning games, thy middle name has never been “easy.” Stars in 7.
Derek: Maximum. Chaos. Stars in 7.
Wes: Tiffin and I talked about this on the podcast (cheap plug!) but I don’t see this series going long. It’s going to be violent, it could absolutely go either way, and I think it’s over in 6. Key questions: how quickly can Dallas adjust to worrying about an entire team versus a super-nova individual, can they continue producing goals up and down the lineup, and can Khudobin make enough of the right saves? Stars in 6.
Ann: I’ve picked the Stars in every series and I have not lead you astray. The Golden Knights are good, but the Stars are better (when they remember to be). Stars in 6.
Tyler: I’m torn. On one hand, I legitimately believe that the Stars can beat the Golden Knights, assuming they can keep up the scoring. On the other hand, I’m a sucker for sports superstitions, and I’ve picked against Dallas both series so far. I’m okay with being wrong. Golden Knights in 6.
Rob M: Has anyone taken a breath yet after that game 7? Ok cool, me too. The Stars outed what many thought was the best team in hockey. The Knights are a really good team, with good top end, depth, and good goaltending. I like the Stars overall depth at all positions too much to pick against them. Stars in 7.
Mark: Vegas is a nightmare matchup for the Stars. They’re fast, play solid defense, and can cycle with the best. They’re also sneaky dirty. Dallas will need to survive the VGK possession game, and then score on the counter/rush. The team that controls their emotions will win. Should be Vegas, but I’ll throw in at Stars in 7.
Final Tally: Dallas 7, Vegas 2