It’s almost poetic justice that halfway through the third period of game seven between the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken, DJ Shippy started playing “Living on a Prayer.” As everyone in the arena was singing the famous lyrics, “we’re halfway there….” it dawned on me that with the win in Game 7, the Stars are exactly that. Halfway to the ultimate prize.
The Dallas Stars have won eight games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The goal is to be the first team to win 16. It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but does that matter? Not in the least. The only thing that matters is the final score at the end of the hockey game.
What’s next for the Dallas Stars?
With the win Dallas now plays the team with the best record in the western conference; the Vegas Golden Knights. Looking at the numbers, this series looks pretty even. Vegas has a slight edge in goals per game (2.71 to 2.67). While Dallas has a slight edge on the defensive side (2.21 goals against for Dallas to 2.31 for Vegas).
A lot of talk is given to the Stars top line but Vegas’ top unit isn’t a slouch. Ivan Barbashev, Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault are a threat any time they’re on the ice. In their 11 playoff games the top line has generated 15 goals and had 18 assists.
The 2020 Western Conference rematch should be as evenly matched a series as you could ask for. A couple of key players to watch for Dallas in this series:
Roope Hintz. It’s hard to imagine another player on the Stars winning the Conn Smythe trophy if they go on to hoist the Stanley Cup. Hintz has been ridiculous so far in the playoffs. He has 19 points in 13 games already. With Pavelski missing the first series and Robertson struggling to find the back of the net, Hintz has been the constant so far.
Wyatt Johnston. It’s crazy to think that Johnston just celebrated his 20th birthday. Yet he’s looked more like a seasoned veteran out there during these playoffs. His goal in game seven will be talked about for years to come. Not only because of how sick it was but because of how calm and collected he was during that stage of the game.
Miro Heiskanen. In game seven, Miro played just over 32 minutes in the game. That’s not a fluke either. He’s constantly playing more time than anyone else out there and he’s almost always the best player on the ice for either side. Expect him to be out there a lot again this series do help combat some of the heavy hitters Vegas can throw at you.
Jake Oettinger. The Dallas Stars netminder had a couple of forgettable games against the Seattle Kraken. However, when it counted and mattered most, Oettinger was the goalie Dallas needed. They’re going to need him to be elite again in this series. Vegas is going to score some goals. You can’t expect a series shutout. What you can expect though is that huge save with the game on the line. Otter has shown the ability to do that in the past and I fully expect him to do it again.
Dallas Stars Prediction:
Vegas has some great players and can score at will. To me, though, this series comes down to the Stars having the better defense and the better goalie. I think Otter will steal a win in Vegas and Dallas will be heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.
Stars in six!