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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars

Wild vs Stars

2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars

Dating all the way back to the 1992-93 season, the Minnesota North Stars were in peak form, but Dallas took away Minnesota’s team. Now, it all comes full circle in this year’s 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs to see who is really the true star of the playoffs. The clash between the Wild and Stars is headlining an action-packed first round of hockey in the Western Conference. We will be breaking down why each team can win, and predict who will become victorious in this historic matchup.

*Puck drop for Game 1 at Dallas is at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, April 17*

Why the Dallas Stars will win this series:

Stars are scorching right now

The Dallas Stars have come into this playoff scorching hot, and I mean, hot. The Stars have been playing some of their best hockey right now, having won their last six games while outscoring their opponents 23-6. One of the biggest things that can make or break your season in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is how you come into the playoffs. Look at the 2019 St. Louis Blues. They went on a historic run, and everyone doubted them, but they did it. They won the Stanley Cup off of their momentum, and that’s exactly what the Stars need to do: build off that regular season momentum.

Keeping the puck out of the net

The Stars have an expected goals against rate of 160.0 while the league average is 176.3. If they want to stop this Minnesota Wild team, who has been knocking on the door of a breakout season, they need to keep the puck out of their own net.

Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger has been the cause of it. The 24-year-old Minnesota goaltender is now facing off against his hometown team for the first time in the playoffs. Oettinger has been an animal all season long, and he elevates it in the playoffs. Last season, he put the team on his back and carried the Stars. In the postseason, he had a 1.81 goals against average, and a .954 save percentage. That is stupid good.

If he can keep playing like he has been, the Stars might slip out of the first round for the first time since 2020.

Experience

The Stars have been here before and there is no excuse now. The Stars have a chance to redeem themselves after losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals. In the postseason it’s a different beast, you have to have experience in it. It will beat you down every single second. This is not any regular season play. This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Stars have all the experience in the world with players like Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Max Domi and more. All these players will help the Stars compete for a Stanley Cup, and beat the unexperienced Wild.

Why the Wild will win this series:

Kirill Kaprizov

One man has done it all season for the Wild. One man has pushed them to the Playoffs. That one man is Kirill Kaprizov.

Kirill the Thrill is already arguably the best player in Minnesota Wild history after only three seasons with the team. It might be sad to say, but he is that good. In only 67 games played this season, Kaprizov has 40 goals and 35 assists for a total of 75 points.

I know what you’re probably thinking right now, Griffin, does one player make that much of a difference? Well, that answer is a short and bold yes. It may not show up on the stat sheet, but Kaprizov is the master of handling the puck. His skating and ability to protect the puck is out of this world. The way he skates around defenders so effortlessly is believable to watch.

If the Wild didn’t have Kaprizov, they might not even be in this situation, and that’s why he matters so much to this team.

Young Guns stepping up to the plate

The story of this Minnesota Wild team is quite interesting. With one gemstone in Kaprizov, the Wild have other cards to play in this historic matchup. But, with every Batman, there is always a Robin or two in this case. Matt Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek are the Wild’s Robins.

The two young guns have proven themselves that they belong in the NHL as top-liners. Both of these young cats have grazed over the 60-point threshold this season for the first time in both of their careers. Although Eriksson Ek will be out until around April 24 with a lower body injury, it is a possibility he will play this series.

But, besides the point, these two future superstars are the much needed help the Wild needed to bring postseason hockey back to the State of Hockey. Watch out for this tandem in the Wild vs Stars series. You won’t be disappointed.

The door will finally be broken down

The Wild have been knocking on the door of a big playoff run for years now. They just haven’t been able to get out of the first and second rounds. Now, it just feels different this season.

Everything is clicking and like said before, players are stepping up. All the pieces are slowly forming together to make something magical happen. I know that it’s just a feeling, but the Wild have been so close yet so far away at the same time to a big run. With the Western Conference being the weakest in years, this is the Wild’s season to make some noise.

Final Prediction

With the history behind this series, it certainly will be a great one. The Wild and Stars split the season series with two games a piece in the regular season, and with bias aside, here is my prediction. I think the Minnesota Wild will squeak out this win by the skin of their teeth. I want the Wild to win this series because I can’t stand the Stars, but I believe this is their year to make some noise.

Minnesota Wild will win 4-3 over the Dallas Stars and will move onto the second-round.

***

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