There’s something going on in the NHL that nobody’s talking about. However, the 2020s appear to be showing us a developing rivalry out west. The Dallas Stars vs the Vegas Golden Knights has the makings to become one of today’s best NHL matchups.
Rivalries are made in the playoffs
Most of the NHL’s iconic rivalries were constructed in the postseason. A perfect example of this was when the Detroit Red Wings were rivals with the Colorado Avalanche. That hatred didn’t emerge from regular season play (or divisional/conference placement), it stemmed from a moment in the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs). Now they’re in separate conferences, not meeting in the playoffs, and that rivalry isn’t the same.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals of the 2k10s was the most recent prominent league rivalry. Because not only was it Sidney Crosby vs Alexander Ovechkin, those playoff battles made the rivalry great.
Both the Stars, and the Golden Knights have played and beat each other in the playoffs. If Dallas are to beat Vegas this spring, and go onto win the Stanley Cup one can argue that this would be the NHL’s Best current day rivalry.
Two of the West’s best
Ever since 2020 Dallas, or Vegas have been the best in the west two out of three times. We’re not counting 2021 since there was no east vs west in the Stanley Cup playoffs, or finals that year. Montreal vs Tampa Bay was a result of the NHL adjusting to the covid pandemic.
Both the Stars, and the Golden Knights are Cup contenders this year. It’s certainly possible to see these two teams fighting it out in the western conference finals for a second straight year. It will also be the third time in five years that would happen.
Given the injury problems for the Avalanche. The Edmonton Oilers struggling to keep the puck out of their net. Having a rematch to decide which western powerhouse goes to the final round again may be a wise bet. The Seattle Kraken, and the Los Angeles Kings don’t quite seem to be there yet.
The Pete Deboer connection
Both times the teams met in the playoffs, Pete Deboer was on the losing end of the series. Deboer was the coach of Vegas in 2020 when Dallas won the WCF in five games. Last season Deboer coached his first season in Dallas, and had his season end vs Vegas in six games. Which occurred again in the WCF.
The first person who has to be fired up about this budding rivalry has to be the coach. While Deboer is a professional who has his eyes set on wins no matter who he plays, you can imagine Deboer doesn’t have a short memory.
The games are competitive
When the two teams get together, the games are usually close. Over the last couple seasons both regular season, and playoff games have gone past 60 minutes most of the time. There were a couple Vegas blowouts, but those two games in the 2023 playoffs were simply Vegas’ to lose.
Game three of the WCH the captain Jamie Benn had a meltdown (after two straight Vegas ot wins). Game six of that series the Golden Knights are too good of a team to lose three games in a row during the playoffs. All the other games have been one or two goal games.
Nasty business with Jamie Benn
Speaking of Benn, last year’s incident of the captains Benn, and Mark Stone was not forgotten this past Tuesday, October 17th.Nic Hague is a big guy, but Benn got off some impressive haymakers in the scrap. The Stars will be seeing the Golden Knights at least two more times this season.
Photo credit: David Becker/AP
Wednesday, November 22nd, and Saturday, December 9th Vegas will be visiting Dallas to round off the season series. We’ll find out after then if Vegas, and Benn ironed out their differences.
Featured photo: David Becker, freelancer/AP