Conference Final predictions for Oilers vs. Stars and Panthers vs. Rangers

With the NHL playoffs now down to four teams, we break down the two Conference Final matchups and predict who will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars / Sam Hodde/GettyImages
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The Oilers also have the best special teams of all the playoff teams, as they lead the NHL postseason in PP at 37.5 percent, and PK at 91.4 percent. (They went 100 percent in the first round against the Kings.) The Oilers are second among all remaining NHL teams, with 394 hits. (Boston still officially leads the postseason with 621 hits, but of course they were out in the second round.) But who leads the NHL postseason in blocked shots? Dallas, with 283.

Going over the depth scoring for Dallas, in the final game of ther series against Colorado, stars of yesteryear Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn were both playing on the third line. Both have identical 3-5-8 boxcars in 13 games. Evgeni Dadanov is 3-3-6 in 13. That's a formidable third line right there. On the fourth line, Radek Faksa has only played six games and has an assist in that time (he appears to be covering for the injury of Roope Hintz, who had 2-4-6 in 11 games played). Sam Steel has 1-3-4 in 13. Craig Smith rounds out their bottom six with two assists in 11 games. So, what Dallas has is four out of six players who are capable of putting up secondary offence on a regular basis so far.

Meanwhile for the Oilers, while Ryan McLeod is contributing on the PK, he's one of two players on the roster with no points in the playoffs so far, with Corey Perry being the other one. Since Dallas is a former team, Perry may draw back in at some point, although Sam Carrick has done pretty good in his absence so who really knows? Meanwhile, Warren Foegele has seen time in the top six in the playoffs. However, he has struggled a bit during this postseason, only managing to put up 1-1-2 in 12 games, after scoring 20 goals in the regular season. Connor Brown is only in the lineup covering for Adam Henrique, but even so he's managed one assist in six games.

The Oilers' best scorer in the bottom six has been Mattias Janmark of all people, with 1-2-3 in 12 games. There's also Derek Ryan, who has one assist in nine games. As you can see, the Oilers have been rotating bottom six forwards in and out of the lineup as injury and performance dictate, struggling to find much offence from that portion of the lineup. It will probably help when Henrique is healthy enough to draw back in and push Dylan Holloway back down to the bottom six (at least in theory anyway - he's done pretty good in the top six).

Health-wise we'll call it a wash, as Dallas has more guys out in Hintz and Jane Hakanpaa, while Edmonton have the higher profile guy out in Henrique.

This is truly a series where either team could win. If the Stars win, it will be because of depth scoring and goaltending. If the Oilers win, it'll be because they have superior firepower up front and on special teams. But I have to make a prediction, so here it is:

My winner - Oilers win 4-3