Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2020

Currently: 99° — Complete forecast

Game 1 keys for Golden Knights vs. Dallas, sponsored by Credit One Bank

Theodore

Jason Franson / The Canadian Press via AP

Vegas Golden Knights’ Shea Theodore (27) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates Reilly Smith (19), Jonathan Marchessault (81) and Max Pacioretty (67) during the third period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Edmonton, Alberta.

The competition will get more difficult in this round of the playoffs for the Golden Knights.

With a berth in the Stanley Cup Final on the line, Vegas will take on the Dallas Stars at 5 p.m. in Game 1 of the best-of-seven game Western Conference Final on NBC.

The Stars also needed seven games in the second round, beating Colorado Friday in overtime. A few hours later, Vegas advanced with a Game 7 win against Vancouver.

But the Stars are massive upgrade in competition for Vegas, who has eliminated Chicago (who shouldn’t have been in the postseason) and Vancouver (who it thoroughly dominated).

Here are three keys to victory in Game 1, sponsored by Credit One Bank.

Find out who the Stars are

Game 1 will resemble the early rounds of a boxing match with both teams feeling each other out. The Stars are a peculiar team. They were one of the best defensive teams in the league in the regular season, but struggled to score. They seemed content winning low-scoring games. But in the playoffs their games have been much more open, and the Stars rank third in goals per game of teams in the postseason. Vegas will need to learn quickly which Stars are going to show up this series.

Get ready to get physical

The Blackhawks and Canucks were smaller quicker teams that relied on skill and transition scoring. The Stars are a team of bruisers. The Stars lead the NHL this postseason with 39.5 hits per game. The Golden Knights are third at 37.7. Vegas won’t be able to bully Dallas like it did to Chicago and Vancouver, and establishing a physical presence early will be important.

Make the most of your chances

The Golden Knights overwhelmed the Blackhawks and Canucks with puck possession, out attempting those two teams 719-458 in a combined 12 games at 5-on-5. The Stars are on the minus side of possession numbers this postseason, but also faced a much tougher road to the conference final that Vegas did. The Golden Knights aren’t going to average 75 shot attempts per game against the Stars, and will need to cash in on the chances they do get.