The NHL Conference Finals: Styles Make Fights
Updated: Sep 8
The final 4 teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs have been decided and they could not be any more different. In the West, there is the "we don't have bad seasons and our fans do not know what suffering is" Vegas Golden Knights going up against a Dallas Stars franchise who have been fighting off the stigma of mediocrity for the past 2 decades. On the other end, after countless embarrassing seasons the Islanders are looking to recapture 80's glory against the Tampa Bay Lightning who are frankly just the San Jose Sharks of the East until they win the cup.
Breakdown of key stats since the return:
The Western Conference Finals
Why Vegas can win:
Vegas is fast, plays great defense, and smothers teams with shots. They also have Peter Deboer as a coach who, while maybe not the best long term coach, is capable of taking talented teams and elevating them into cup contenders. For Vegas to advance, they will need to overwhelm Dallas with shots and agitate the Stars into taking needless penalties. Not having Reaves for game 1 means that other players will need to step up in setting the tone for the series.
Why Dallas can win:
This team is tough as shit. They remind me of the Blues from last year or the 2012 Kings. Big, gritty, and they find ways to win. In the last 2 weeks they have averaged nearly 50 hits per game. To win they will need to break the will of the Knights through physical play.
I think coaching is going to play a large role here and its hard for me to bet against Deboer, who has taken his last 2 teams to the finals in his first year with them. With Reaves out I think Dallas can definitely take game 1 but its going to be difficult for Dallas to execute their physical brand with Reaves back in.
Vegas in 6
The Eastern Conference Finals
Why Tampa Bay can win:
I mean they are supposed to right? They have more allstars on their roster than any other, great goaltending, and a great coach. But every year, some how some way, they get out-willed. This series is completely up to them - either they get out of their own way or fall to the less-talented team, again.
Why New York can win:
This team does everything right. They play physical, they get to the front of the net, and they finish plays. They are also coached by Barry Trotz who just won a cup 2 years ago. Tampa is going to match them tit for tat on every metric so it will be up to New York to outlast the pressure that Tampa brings.
For now, they are the Tampa Bay Sharks to me. The team has been stocked with endless talent and the fanbase has been blessed with a "there's always next year" attitude. I want to trust this team but I can't given the playoff disasters in recent years.
New York in 7
Data provided by www.NHL.com