Let’s break down the three keys for the Stars in their 1st Round matchup against the Las Vegas Golden Knights

1) Special Teams

Special teams are always a factor in winning or losing a hockey game. In the playoffs, the power play and penalty kill is magnified and broken down a thousand times. There were 13 penalties called over Saturday’s two games. A total of 21 minor penalties were called through Sunday’s games. That’s 34 penalties across six games, which is slightly above four penalties a game. Therefore, expect penalties to be called, especially if tensions increase on the ice and things get chippy.

Here’s a breakdown of the special teams between the Stars and Golden Knights. The Stars ranked sixth on the power play at a 24.2% conversion rate, while Vegas ranked 20th, converting n 20.2% of their opportunities. Oh, the other side, Dallas’s penalty killing placed eighth in the league, denying 82% of teams’ man-advantage opportunities. The Golden Knights ranked 16th with 79.3%. One interesting fact to note is that Dallas has a net penalty kill percentage of 87%.

Any goal scored short-handed boosts a team’s PK net percentage. Dallas recorded the second-most short-handed tallies, 12, to inflate their netPK net percentage to 87%. If they scored none, the PK and PK net percentage would be the same. 

2) X-Factor

Logan Stankoven was not expected to play a major role for the Stars in Dallas this season. His assignment was to develop while playing for the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League based in Cedar Park, nearly 175 miles south of the DFW Metroplex.

However, injuries in the middle of the year brought the young man to the NHL Stars, and Stanvoken seized the opportunity.

He has 14 points in 24 games, serving as a key bottom-six winger on a deep forward group. 

“Him and (center) Wyatt Johnston have great chemistry, and I think (left wing) Jamie Benn has great chemistry with too. I think it’s kind of rejuvenated Benn, so it’s been fun to watch,” Dallas Stars General Manager Jim NIll told NHL.com Staff Writer Tracey Myers. 

Stanvoken has not played against Vegas. He could be instrumental in lifting the Stars past the Golden Knights.

3) The Defense Needs to Step Up

Dallas contains one of the strongest forward groups across the NHL. There is no doubt. Yet, Vegas has one of the strongest defense cores in the league. They are towering, mobile structures of human beings with extensive playoff experience.

The defensemen on the Stars can transition the puck well and chip in offensively, but the question will be can they withstand wave after wave of Golden Knights attacking the zone? 

Overall, the Stars are currently built better from top to bottom than Vegas.
The additions Nill made to improve the forwards and, the growth of blueliner Thomas Harley, and the acquisition of Chris Tanev makes this team stronger than the squad that reached the Western Conference Final last spring. 


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