Stars Prepare for WCF Matchup Against Oilers

Dallas Stars | Image by Dallas Stars/Facebook
Dallas Stars | Image by Dallas Stars/Facebook

The Dallas Stars will face off against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at American Airlines Center, where the Stars hope to get off to a better start than in their previous two series.

Dallas is coming off a high-scoring series against the Colorado Avalanche in which they scored at least three goals in five of their six games, while the Oilers just finished a seven-game series against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Stars have been led in the postseason by defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who has contributed 13 points through five goals and eight assists in their 13 total playoff games.

Left-wing Jason Robertson follows close behind with 12 points during their playoff run, with center Wyatt Johnston being third in points with 11 but pacing the team with seven goals.

Dallas lauded the Oilers coming into the series, with Coach Pete DeBoer saying that Edmonton has “been an elite team in just about every category” for the entirety of the year.

“You’ve got to know when they’re on the ice at all times … managing the puck a little better, a little sharper, and trying not to give them free offense,” added Robertson, per ESPN.

Although the Oilers were not nearly as effective in power plays as the Stars’ previous opponents, finishing 20th in power play percentage, Deboer said he has emphasized to the team the importance of not committing unnecessary penalties because the “best penalty kill is staying out of the box.”

“Colorado had a great power play, and we had to deal with that. Vegas actually had a really good power play. This one’s probably a little bit of a different level than those,” he added, per ESPN.

The Stars will look to take advantage of an Oilers team that struggled to win games on the road during the regular season, finishing with a 21-18-2 record during the season when playing on another team’s ice.

Although the Stars were one of the best teams in the regular season when playing in American Airlines Center, finishing the year with a 26-11-4 record, they have won just four of their seven home games during their first two playoff series.

The Stars enter Game 1 with both defenseman Jani Hakanpaa and center Roope Hintz listed as day-to-day, with no indication about whether they will be available once the puck drops.

DeBoer said that Hintz “skated pretty extensively” during the team’s Wednesday practice, but the coach is unsure when he will be ready to play.

Edmonton will come into the game with center Adam Henrique listed as day-to-day, with Oilers Coach Kris Knoblauch saying that he will likely return to the ice within the first three games of this series, per ESPN.

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