The Need to Knows:
- The Time: 6:30pm PT
- The Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
- Place to Watch: ESPN, CBC, TVAS, SportsNet
- Place to Listen: KJR 93.3 FM
- An Opposing Viewpoint: Defending Big D
Know Your Enemy:
- Dallas’ leading scorer of the playoffs is Roope Hintz, who has 5 goals in 6 games. He’s also their leading point-getter with 12 in 6 games.
- Right behind him is young wunderkind Jason Robertson, who’s only scored twice so far, but he’s made up for it in playmaking ability, which has him good for 7 points in 6 games.
- Miro Heiskanen has no goals but is still a point a game this postseason with 6 points in 6 games.
- Of course, none of this would be possible without Jake Oettinger, who through 6 games has a .929 SV%
Hey did you like it when the Kraken were universally picked to get smoked last round? Well guess what, they’re doing it again!
It’s like they never learn.
However, unlike the Colorado Avalanche, who were admittedly down quite a few big names and just kept losing them, through divine intervention or…well…Jordan Eberle’s, it should not shock you to know that the Dallas Stars are a bit more put together than the Avs; having had an absolute war against the Minnesota Wild, but ultimately coming out on top in Six Games. Dallas is younger where it counts, deeper where it counts, and getting just as good goaltending as Seattle got in Round One. They’ve been waiting since Friday for their opponent to show up, and now they get to test their mettle against a Kraken team that’s made being a problem to play against a personality trait. Here’s what the Kraken will need to do to face this mighty foe head on.
Regular Season DRAMA
This series, if the regular season is any indication (which I am told repeatedly isn’t true) will be very fun.
In their three meetings; the Kraken and Stars never had a normal game. This is not news for Seattle; Seattle never plays normal sports games ever, but these games against Dallas have been especially tight and dramatic.
In their first meeting, Dallas battled back with the net empty to win in overtime, where Joe Pavelski finally potted the even-up goal after nearly a half-minute of Philipp Grubauer being interfered with in panic by his own defenseman, and Miro Heiskanen became the OT winner with an honestly pretty great sequence with him and Evgenii Dadonov.
Then there was one game that the Kraken kinda…well, they never really were in it so that one kinda stank.
But their most recent meeting was grand larceny by Adam Larsson of all people, who decided that he was a goalscorer’s goalscorer in overtime after the Kraken blew a 4-2 lead with a near buzzer beating tally by Jamie Benn.
So if nothing else, these two teams definitely could bring some Dramatic hockey for Round 2 if this is any indication.
Special Teams play needs to be on point.
While the game-plan for the Kraken can and should be much of the same of what they did against the Avalanche, one area of the game that must be their saving grace coming into Round 2 is the impressive upswing they experienced on Special Teams.
Specifically, their penalty kill needs to be lights out.
Dallas did a lot to gut out their win against the Wild, but their biggest X factor going through that first round was a power play that was nearly automatic. Through six games, the Stars both got a lot of power plays and scored on them; drawing 4 per game on the dot, and scoring at a 1.5 powerplay goals-for per game clip. good for a 4th in the playoffs 37.5% success rate ; only behind Boston, Winnipeg, and Edmonton.
Mighty impressive, and how did they gin up this kind of offense? Well, that comes down to the dude I mentioned above: Roope Hintz.
Hintz has been playing out of his mind for Dallas this year, and the playoffs have been no different: he’s been all over the ice for the guys in Victory Green at even-strength and a massive part of their early success at the best of times, but when he’s on the power play he finds a newer, even spicier gear, and that’s come to a team leading 7 points on the power play alone, 2 of whom are goals. He’s even got a short-handed goal to his name!
But it’s who he’s passing to in these last few games that’s caused some heads to turn, because it just happens to be a now franchise record holder.
They gotta stop Tyler Seguin, man.
Where the hell did this old man come from?
Seguin is in many ways the turning point of the Dallas Stars’ return to relevance in the 2010’s; a huge name they could hang their hat on while they built for the future, the first readymade star for the Stars in quite a while. It took a little longer than you’d expect, and Seguin has been shuffled down the lineup as more of a respectable 3rd liner, but he’s found a niche for Dallas in scoring playoff power play goals. So much so, that he’s broken the Franchise record for Power Play Goals in a single series.
So yeah, it seems that the Stars are getting their youths and their olds playing their best at the perfect time. Shutting down one means shutting down the other, and while they did a great job of it against Colorado…I don’t know if they can count on something insanely messy as whatever Nichushkin did to happen twice in a row. The Squids need to come out swinging every game.
But history has shown that the Kraken…kind of know how to do that against Dallas?
Going under the hood, the Kraken need to summon whatever was working against the Stars in the Regular Season.
One of the interesting things about how the regular season series went against these two teams was that, even when the Kraken were getting smoked…they were generally controlling play, if not dominating it. It also highlights something about the Stars that I would say is a major weakness; sometimes, the Stars just kind of shut things down and make it very hard on themselves to do much of anything at even strength.
Of course, this is the playoffs, where in the Kraken’s case they had a back and forth series against the Avalanche where Grubauer and Bjorky’s grand robbery finished up things. The Stars on the other hand…mostly did this.
So the preparation for the Stars being a bit more relentless this time around should be key.
As per usual, it all comes down to goaltending.
If you told someone that there was a chance of these two teams playing back in April, that would’ve been given a respectful nod. They’re both good teams and were jockeying for position all throughout the last two weeks of the season. If I told you that the key to a Kraken-Stars series came down to goaltending being a major x-factor? I don’t think that would’ve really turned many heads either; goaltending was a bit of a concern coming into the postseason and had been so for Seattle for about…oh…six-seven months?
If I told you it was because both goaltenders were above .920 SV% and had multiple insane, series saving stops under their belt through 6+ games?
That’s where you start getting called crazy.
But it’s true! Oettinger and Grubauer’s performances so far have only been phenomenal so far. Oettinger gave the Stars ample time to recover when they weren’t on their game, and the Kraken owe a debt of gratitude to dearest Grubert for saving their season. But now they need to keep up the pace. The Kraken had plenty of games where they were on the back foot against Colorado, but now it’s a matter of keeping two lines of talented players plus defensemen from completely gashing them at evens…to say little of the power play.
Grubauer needs to be ready for yet another fight of his life. I’m sure he’s up to the task.
It’s gonna be another barnburner of a series, and we start it down in Dallas at 6:30.
Let’s keep surprising.
LETS GO KRAKEN, GO SQUIDS!