May 23, 2024 - News

A casual fan's guide to the NHL Western Conference Finals

Hockey players huddled in a circle on ice

Let's see more of these celebrations. Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Dallas Stars are headed to their second straight Western Conference Finals after defeating the two most recent Stanley Cup champs in the playoffs.

Why it matters: The Stars may have toppled two of the best teams in the National Hockey League, but they're not a shoo-in to the Stanley Cup Finals.

  • They have home-ice advantage in the seven-game series against the Edmonton Oilers, but the Oilers have the league's best players.

State of cheer: The Stars have had a devoted Dallas fanbase since moving from Minnesota in 1993. Fans are energetic and loud at the American Airlines Center. Few wear the team's T-shirts, instead shelling out money for jerseys.

  • After every Dallas goal, fans chant "Dallas! Stars!" to Arlington-based Pantera's "Puck Off," which was written for the team. If you want to fit in, pump your fists along with the most diehard fans.

Who we're watching: The Stars have a mix of young and experienced players, from longtime captain Jamie Benn to second-year player Wyatt Johnston, who turned 21 during the playoffs.

  • Johnston has seven goals in the postseason, the most on the team.
  • Miro Heiskanen has the most points, with five goals and eight assists. He was the third pick in the first round of the 2017 draft.
  • Jason Robertson, who led the team in scoring last year, was the third top scorer this regular season.

Of note: Roope Hintz, who led the Stars in scoring last postseason, has missed the last two games after taking a hard hit. He is listed as day-to-day, per the DMN.

Threat level: Edmonton has the top point earners in the playoffs — Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — with a collective 19 goals and 62 assists.

  • McDavid, for example, is the best player in the NHL and ranked third in the regular season for points with 100 assists and 32 goals.

🦦 Yes, but: The Stars have goalie Jake Oettinger, who has been clutch in the postseason with a .918 save percentage.

How to watch: Game 1 is 7:30pm Thursday at the AAC. Tickets are still available or you can watch on TNT or MAX.

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