The Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights begin the Western Conference Finals in Vegas on Friday night, each hoping to get one step closer to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Stars are making their 12th appearance in the Western Conference Finals after a 2-1 win over the Seattle Kraken in Game 7 of their second-round series on Monday night.
The win was Dallas’ first Game 7 win on home ice in 23 years and propelled it to the conference finals for the first time since 2020.
“You get to this point with the final four; the margins are razor thin,” Dallas Head Coach Pete DeBoer said as he met with the media in Las Vegas on Thursday. “Both teams are prepared, well-coached, [and] have a game plan.”
“…We needed to play a game like Game 7,” he continued. “We really hadn’t played one yet in the playoffs.”
“I think Game 7 was our most complete game of the postseason,” forward Jason Robertson added as he addressed the media Thursday. “We looked at it on the video and everything; we talked about [how] that’s kind of the standard that we want to play at.”
“…Knowing that in that pressure situation that we could do that at that moment, we hope to let that bleed into Game 1 here tomorrow night and hopefully for the rest of the series,” Robertson declared.
Dallas also beat the Minnesota Wild in six games in the first round after finishing the regular season in second place in the Central Division.
While the Stars are on the cusp of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, they have fallen behind early in each of their first two series.
“We went down in a couple series, 2-1 both times heading into Game 4,” Robertson analyzed. “Obviously, we don’t want to be in that situation, but we kept our composure in a hostile environment to try to get those extra wins, and that’s a tribute to all the players and the coaching staff keeping us prepared and really trying to take back the series.”
“The composure with everyone so far is something that we’ve had as an advantage, and we’re going to need that this series because, certainly, there’s going to be a lot of adversity.”
Vegas had the best record in the Western Conference during the regular season and knocked out Winnipeg and Edmonton during its playoff run.
Golden Knights forward and captain Mark Stone is one of the more accomplished veterans on the team and is second on the team in points this postseason (five goals, seven assists).
“Mark Stone is one of those guys we’ll have to deal with on the other side, but he’s not alone,” DeBoer explained. “They’ve got a stacked roster there.”
Those other players include former first overall pick and leading point scorer Jack Eichel, veteran defensemen Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, and Alec Martinez, and franchise staples William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault — who have been two of Vegas’ top scorers since its inaugural season in 2017.
The Vegas Golden Knights are making their fourth appearance in the Western Conference Finals in their fifth trip to the playoffs after missing the postseason for the first time last year.
Dallas has played Vegas 14 times since the 2017-18 season and holds a 3-8-3 record. The Stars have won the last four matchups –including all three this season — but know this is the only time that counts.
“I think we’re both different teams than the last time we played them,” DeBoer told the media. “I think tendencies can help in knowing the group, but they’re as familiar with us as we are with them.”
“It doesn’t matter how we got to this point,” forward Wyatt Johnston added. “All that matters is Game 1 and focusing on this series. It’s a completely different series, and nothing that’s happened to this point really matters.”
The Western Conference Finals begin at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.