The conference final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs features four teams in two best-of-7 series, which start Wednesday. Today, NHL.com previews the Western Conference Final between the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers.

(1C) Dallas Stars vs. (2P) Edmonton Oilers

Stars: 52-21-9, 113 points; defeated Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in first round, Colorado Avalanche 4-2 in second round

Oilers: 49-27-6, 104 points; defeated Los Angeles Kings 4-1 in first round, Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in second round

Season series: DAL: 2-0-1, EDM: 1-2-0

Game 1: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET (TNT, truTV, MAX, SN, CBC, TVAS)

The Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers will meet for the ninth time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they face off in the Western Conference Final.

The last time they played one another in the postseason was the 2003 conference quarterfinals, when Dallas defeated Edmonton in six games. The Stars/Minnesota North Stars are 6-2 in eight postseason games against Edmonton since 1983-84.

Each had a tremendous second half to the regular season. The Oilers (31-12-5, 67 points) and Stars (30-12-5, 65 points) were the top two teams in standings points among West teams after Jan. 1.

The Stars are coming off two tough series, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games in the first round and the Colorado Avalanche in six in the second round. They've been able to get some rest and practice time since eliminating the Avalanche last Friday, something that they're welcoming.

"I'm not worried about rust," coach Pete DeBoer said. "It's going to end up being six days maybe?

"With the two series we just went through, we could use the time. It's actually probably a perfect amount of time that we can recharge, get some guys healthy and get reset for the next round. Rolling that first round into the second round with the two opponents we had was a really tough month of hockey."

After a five-game win against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, the Oilers went seven in the second round with the Vancouver Canucks, winning the final two games of the series to advance.

"It's the conference final. You're going to play a great team and they certainly are," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. "They're deep, as deep a team as you're going to find in the NHL. Four lines, six D-men, they have a great goaltender. It's going to be a great test and we're looking forward to it."

Game breakers

Stars: You could still argue Wyatt Johnston for this category, but we'll go with Miro Heiskanen for this round. The defenseman has been outstanding in the postseason, leading the Stars with 13 points (five goals, eight assists). Heiskanen came up big in the second round, when he had eight points (four goals, four assists). He is averaging 28:01 of ice time per game, most among defensemen still in the postseason.

Oilers: Leon Draisaitl narrowly edges McDavid, like he's doing in postseason production. The forward leads the playoffs with 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists); McDavid is next with 21 points (two goals, 19 assists). Draisaitl is also first with a 2.00 points-per-game average and six power-play goals. He has two game-winning goals in 12 postseason games, tied with Zach Hyman for second on the Oilers behind defenseman Evan Bouchard (three).


Stars: Jake Oettinger (8-5) is one of three goalies with eight postseason wins, with Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers (8-2) and Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers (8-3). Oettinger has been up to the task once again, with a 2.09 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. He saved his best for his last start, making 29 saves in a 2-1 double-overtime win to eliminate the Avalanche.

Oilers: Edmonton changed goalies for two games in the second round, but Stuart Skinner has gotten most of the starts, going 7-3 with a 2.87 GAA, .881 save percentage and one shutout. He made 15 saves in a 3-2 win against Vancouver on Monday, the first Game 7 of his NHL career. Calvin Pickard is 1-1 with a 2.21 GAA and .915 save percentage in three games (two starts).

Numbers to know

Stars: They have reached the conference final for the 13th time in their history and seventh since relocating to Dallas in 1993-94. Their 13 appearances are the second most among non-Original Six franchises behind the Philadelphia Flyers (16).

Oilers: With its second-round victory, Edmonton became the ninth team in NHL history to reach at least 40 series wins. Since the Oilers entered the League in 1979-80, those 40 wins are the most among all teams and three more than the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings over that span.

NHL Tonight preview the Western Conference Final


Stars: Roope Hintz did not play Games 5 or 6 against the Avalanche because of an upper-body injury, and the forward's availability will be crucial if the Stars hope to match the Oilers' star power in the conference final. Hintz had 1.26 points per game (24 in 19 games) to lead the Stars last postseason. He would give them unmatched center depth among the remaining playoff teams, with him being their No. 1 option, and forwards Johnston, Joe Pavelski, Matt Duchene, Tyler Seguin and Logan Stankoven also capable of playing the position at a high level. -- Pete Jensen

Oilers: Evander Kane was a key playoff performer in 2022, when he had 13 goals and 17 points in 15 games. The forward was tied for most goals that postseason and first with 0.87 goals per game (minimum eight games). In these playoffs, Kane has seven points (four goals, three assists) in 12 games and plays on a line with Draisaitl. He had two points (one goal, one assist) and 10 shots on goal in three games against the Stars during the regular season and has scored at least 20 goals in eight straight seasons (minimum 42 games). -- Anna Dua

They said it

"We had 11 games in 21 days, something crazy like that. It was nice to be able to take a few days to reset and physically get some rest. It's been a wild ride so far. That Vegas series was absolutely insane, and Colorado made a hard push at the end there in the last two games, pushed us almost to Game 7. It was nice to get some rest here." -- Stars forward Matt Duchene

"Like Leon (Draisaitl) said, the cliché is we need everyone. We showed everyone can play down the tough minutes. It's going to be big for us against a deep Dallas team. All playoffs you need everybody playing, everybody pulling the same rope. We know we have the pieces to do that. Series like that shows the growth of our team, to have everybody play the way we did gets us that much more ready for the next round." -- Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard

Will win if ...

Stars: They continue to get balanced scoring. There are nine Stars players who have at least six points during the postseason and all on the playoff roster has at least one except defenseman Alexander Petrovic, who made his 2024 postseason debut in Game 6 against the Avalanche. The Stars have gotten scoring from a lot of different players, and that depth makes them dangerous.

Oilers: They get more of what they did in their past two games. The Oilers talked a lot Monday about how everyone contributed on both ends of the ice in Games 6 and 7 against the Canucks. That was especially true on the score sheet, where names other than McDavid and Draisaitl were present often. It was center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It was Bouchard. It was left wing Dylan Holloway. Yes, balance and depth are two words that come up a lot in the playoffs, but for good reason.

How they look

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Wyatt Johnston -- Logan Stankoven

Jason Robertson -- Matt Duchene -- Joe Pavelski

Mason Marchment -- Tyler Seguin -- Evgenii Dadonov

Radek Faksa -- Sam Steel -- Craig Smith

Thomas Harley -- Miro Heiskanen

Esa Lindell -- Chris Tanev

Ryan Suter -- Alexander Petrovic

Scratched: Ty Dellandrea, Nils Lundkvist

Injured: Roope Hintz (upper body), Jani Hakanpaa (lower body)

Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Connor McDavid -- Zach Hyman

Dylan Holloway -- Leon Draisaitl -- Evander Kane

Warren Foegele -- Ryan McLeod -- Derek Ryan

Mattias Janmark -- Sam Carrick -- Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm -- Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse -- Vincent Desharnais

Brett Kulak -- Cody Ceci

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Corey Perry, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher

Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body)