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The Western Conference Final gets underway on Friday with the Stars taking on the Golden Knights.  Our writers offer up their predictions.

Western Conference

Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights

Kevin Leveille predicts: Stars in five games
Terry Costaris predicts: Stars in six games
Allan Katz predicts: Stars in five games
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Stars in six games
Brian La Rose predicts: Stars in six games

(Kevin) The Stars got through Vegas in this same third round a few seasons ago to reach the Final. Can they do it again? Dallas is much deeper and more talented up front than the Golden Knights are, but the Knights have been scoring by committee for years now, or at least they are when they are at their best. The blue line advantage belongs to Vegas, but not by much as Miro Heiskanen’s rise has really tightened that gap. While you can make cases for both teams up front and on the blue line, the true difference for me in this series is in the crease. Vegas has no answer for Jake Oettinger, and unless Jonathan Quick (who isn’t even starting) can somehow find his form from a decade ago, I think the advantage here is too much to overcome. Vegas’ net situation leaves them ripe for the picking, only they’ve faced teams in similar predicaments so far this postseason. I think the Stars are able to finish this one relatively quickly.

(Terry) I have been high on the highly versatile Dallas Stars from the get-go. Defeating such a tenacious opponent as Seattle has them battle-ready with Vegas. The Golden Knights will make Dallas pay for each victory but in the end, they will likely be outclassed.

(Allan) I will not make it a Hab-It breaking down teams by Hab affiliations, but this series begs for it. Let’s start with a team that should be called Montreal South – The Dallas Stars. Basically, the Stars are almost all Habs (three in total) and a sprinkling of others (22 players at most). Let’s start with Joel (Lifetime Norris Trophy Contender) Hanley. He has scored not one, not two, not three but zero goals, none, zippo, but on top of that, he has had one assist (which might have bounced off his behind).

Then there’s Evgenii (Did he even try when he was a Hab?) Dadonov, a player so beloved by his family, because someone has to care for the guy. We’re talking four goals and five assists in the playoffs so far!!! Let’s face it he’s scoring till he gets his next deal and then he’ll go back to sleep. Then there’s Max (You think I’m crazy wait till you meet my Dad) Domi. The guy has three goals and eight assists. With Dadonov and Domi that’s the best double D’s you’ll see on the ice. Three Habs on one team, wait till you hear about their opponent Vegas!

There are two ways to break down the Hab contingent of Vegas. One is to acknowledge they do not have one former Hab on the team and deserve to lose in four. Two is to acknowledge that almost every former Hab has played in Vegas at least at the casinos.

(Norm) Vegas has such a strong team effort that it does not matter who their netminder is for any given game. The team cycled through five different goalies in the regular season due to various injuries; Adin Hill is their current starter to begin the third round of the playoffs. On offence, the Golden Knights have thirteen different goalscorers, boasting strong depth. Dallas also boasts a strong team game, with a strong defence that allowed one of the fewest amounts of goals in even-strength situations. Offensively, Roope Hintz has had an incredible run producing nineteen points, which is one point off the league lead.  Heiskanen leads the league in ice time, and leads the Stars in stellar play to anchor the back end. This will be another hard-fought series, but in the end, Dallas will prevail.

(Brian) I’m a bit concerned for Dallas with Jason Robertson once again struggling.  However, their offence is deep enough that they’ve made do without him doing a lot so far and when he’s on, Oettinger can steal a game.  He just hasn’t been ‘on’ consistently so far.  Vegas’ goaltending is better now with Hill, their backup during the season, replacing the injured Laurent Brossoit.  But even with Oettinger struggling, the Stars have the edge there.  For me, it comes down to this.  We haven’t seen the best of Dallas yet in the playoffs and yet they’ve made it this far.  If they find that next gear, they’re going to be awfully tough to beat, even with how well the Golden Knights have done so far.