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Round 3, Game 1 Preview: Dallas Stars @ Vegas Golden Knights

Credit: Tim Heitman / Dallas Stars

Narratives abound as the Dallas Stars head to Sin City to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals. At the top of the list, Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer returns to the scene where he was fired just last year after an injury riddled final season with Vegas.

There are also cultural differences. The Stars as configured by Jim Nill have developed a family atmosphere, one that promotes development (some might argue over-development) of prospects and intra-generational mentoring. To contrast, at times, Vegas has shown a willingness to throw contracts (and players) to the wind when the team has moved on to something purportedly better.

You have to look no further than Vegas trying to trade Evgenii Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks in spite of the Ducks being on his no trade list. This is the team responsible for the Marc-Andre Fleury sword in the back meme.

All of that seems to me to be a distraction to what this series should end up being. Good, hard, old-school hockey for the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Mason Marchment (27) – Max Domi (18) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Joel Kiviranta (25) –  Radek Faksa (12) – Luke Glendening (11)

Ryan Suter (20) – Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Thomas Harley (55) – Colin Miller (6)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Not a whole lot of questions for the Stars up front. Kiviranta or Ty Dellandrea likely draw out of the fourth line, but everything else should remain the same.

On defense, Jani Hakanpää, Colin Miller and Joel Hanley are vying for two slots. With the series likely uping the physicality, I’d expect Jani Hakanpää back in – and also Miller. Hanley returns to the seventh defender, ready and able to fill in if a crack shows up.

Oettinger, of course, in net.

Vegas Golden Knights Lineup

Ivan Barbashev (49) – Jack Eichel (9) – Jonathan Marchessault (81)
Brett Howden (21) – Chandler Stephenson (20) – Mark Stone (61)
Reilly Smith (19) – William Karlsson (71) – Michael Amadio (22)
William Carrier (28) – Nicolas Roy (10) – Keegan Kolesar (55)

Alec Martinez (23) – Alex Pietrangelo (7)
Brayden McNabb (3) – Shea Theodore (27)
Nicolas Hague (14) – Zach Whitecloud (2)

Adin Hill (33)
Jonathan Quick (32)

Vegas will roll three lines, with a traditional fourth checking line. Everything matches up with Dallas in the top nine, with the Stars potentially having slightly more firepower on the top line.

Defensively, the Golden Knights are big – and willing to throw their weight around. They can join the rush, but primarily will transition the puck to the forward group.

In net, Vegas has gone through injuries. Hill came in against Edmonton and saved the series for them when Laurrent Brossoit went down. At some point Logan Thompson – the team’s number one from the regular season – may return, and they also have Quick in reserve in case things turn ugly.

Keys to the Game

Top Talent. Is this the series where Robertson returns to form, or does Eichel show that he’s ready for the spotlight. Both teams feature top lines that can take over games.

The Net. Does Hill keep the good times rolling? Does Oettinger return to form?

The Boards. Be prepared for intense one-on-one board battles, with a little saltiness thrown in.