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The Western Conference Final gets underway on Sunday night. The HabsWorld staff provide their thoughts and predictions on how this series will play out.

Western Conference

Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars

Norm Szcyrek predicts: Stars in 6 games
Kevin Leveille predicts: Stars in 7 games
Brian La Rose predicts: Golden Knights in 6 games
Allan Katz predicts: Golden Knights in 7 games

(Norm) The Vegas team struggled in the last round against Vancouver but defeated them in seven games. They had a little goalie controversy since changing from starter Marc-Andre Fleury to Robin Lehner, thanks to Fleury’s agent posting an inappropriate social media picture indicating Fleury was stabbed in the back. Despite that disruption, the team soldiered on. In Dallas’ case, starter Ben Bishop was unfit to play during the first round, and they needed to play backup Anton Khudobin, who has really excelled at the opportunity. The Stars have relied heavily on their first line for scoring, but last round their secondary scoring came through in a huge way. I really like the way the Stars have been playing, and perhaps the stars have aligned for them to win this round and proceed to the Stanley Cup finals.

(Kevin) This series should be an absolute street brawl as two big and physical teams square off. Both include plenty of big-name forwards and some interesting depth options up front. On the blue line, both teams feature what I would call underrated top-end talent. These playoffs have served as somewhat of a recognition party for both Miko Heiskanen and Shea Theodore. Both were known as good defenders but I think many fans will now see them as having reached their potential and being mentioned in that top-end category. Perhaps the most intriguing part of these matchups is that it’ll start with Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench and Anton Khudobin and Robin Lehner in net. Neither have been lights out, but they’ve been better than the starters. I think the team that gets the goaltending will ultimately come out on top. I’ll take Stars in 7.

(Brian) Had it not been for Thatcher Demko’s impression of a brick wall, Vegas would have dispatched of Vancouver easily.  They were the better team in that series and it wasn’t particularly competitive.  Meanwhile, it took Dallas three opportunities to win a game against Michael Hutchinson, the goalie whose performances against the Habs got him waived out of the league earlier this season.  I also have concerns about Khudobin the longer he stays as their starter.  In the past, the longer he’s in that role, the worse he does.  My head tells me this is over in five but Dallas’ offence has been better than expected so I’ll give them an extra game but Vegas is heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

(Allan) These teams are pretty close in talent. Vegas brings offence and Dallas brings defence. Vegas has become America’s team and for the sake of the game, it would be better if Vegas won. Dallas has been inundated with cancellations because the NHL supports Black Lives Matter. Picking Vegas.