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3 Stars Keys To Victory vs. Oilers in the Western Conference Final – Hockey Writers – Dallas Stars

Finishing off the most recent Stanley Cup postseason winners, the Dallas Stars' road to the Western Conference Final has not been easy. In their next series, they will face the Edmonton Oilers, who are looking for their first win in the third round of the postseason since they went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.

The Oilers should be a tough challenge for the Stars, as good offensively and defensively as any team left in the postseason. How can Dallas keep the dream of winning their first championship of the 21st century alive?

Play and Win Low Event Style

A theme for the Stars, especially toward the end of their first- and second-round series, was their ability to manipulate games into a low-event style of play. The Vegas Golden Knights didn't stand a chance when they stopped getting the most dangerous looks, and the same thing happened interestingly to a Colorado Avalanche team loaded with talent in the second round.

Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, who had a combined 244 points in 162 regular season contests (1.51 points per game), had just 10 points in 12 combined games against the Stars (0.83 points per game). If Dallas can close out the scoring of perhaps the best player in the NHL right now and arguably the top 15 on top of that, it says a lot about how good they are. Stars play the game they want – teams have to adapt.

2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 3: Oilers vs. Stars (Hockey Writers)

If the Stars can slow down the Avalanche offense as a whole, doing the same to the Oilers doesn't seem out of the ordinary. No team scored more goals than Colorado in the regular season, yet suddenly they don't look as scary against Dallas. Edmonton has the same level of star talent and depth as the Avalanche, so the series is essentially a carbon copy in that sense.

Contrary to what some might think, the Oilers have a very strong defense and solid depth. However, if you take away the impact of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Zach Hyman, their offense is much more potent. Those three will contribute no matter what, but if they don't completely take the series, the Stars' chances look good.

Be the Better Goaltender, Win the Series

The best thing about the Stars in this series is the net play. Stuart Skinner of the Oilers has the upside to be a legitimate starter in the heat, but his decline could be devastating. In these playoffs, he was kept on Calvin Pickard's bench for many games against the Vancouver Canucks. That eventually stopped, but it's worth considering.

For Dallas, Jake Oettinger has been great throughout the postseason, but he flipped a switch in Game 3 and went back in the first round against Vegas. From that point forward, he has a .927 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.93 goals against average (GAA). For reference, Skinner boasts an .881 SV% and a 2.87 GAA overall. Things can always change, but right now the goal is heavily in Dallas' favor.

As long as Oettinger plays at least decently, the Stars could run away with the series. When he did struggle a bit, which was rare, Dallas couldn't fix it. When he plays well in the elite, his team stands out. Everything gets easier when you get a goal in the postseason, especially with a puck-possession team like the Stars.

High goals need to have an impact

In terms of scoring in the playoffs, the Stars and Oilers are very different. The latter scored a number of points, relying on their celebrities to carry the load. Dallas, on the other hand, has had contributions throughout their lineup. Of all people, Wyatt Johnston and Miro Heiskanen have scored 31.6%; many top players need to put the puck in the back of the net.

Related: Dallas Stars' Miro Heiskanen on Pace for Record-Breaking Playoffs

Roope Hintz didn't have a great playoff run, then got hurt against Colorado. Assuming he returns against the Oilers, he will have to improve on his two goals and six points in 11 contests. Joe Pavelski, an 18-season NHL veteran in pursuit of his first Stanley Cup, will touch the scoreboard again with one goal and four points in 13 games. If no one can answer McDavid, Draisaitl, Hyman, and even the incredibly athletic Evan Bouchard, the Stars are doomed.

In overtime against the Avalanche in Game 6, Matt Duchene took over and ended the series with what would end up being the biggest goal of his career. He's not in the same conversation as a player like Jason Robertson in terms of talent, but he's still a top-six player. Goals like this can change a series entirely; Your best players should be your best players.

Given how well the Stars have handled the Avalanche, the Oilers should be coming with them. This series has the potential to be really fun when all is said and done.

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