The Need to Knows
- The Time: 6:30 pm PT / 9:30 pm ET
- The Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington
- Place to Watch: ESPN
- Place to Listen: KJR 93.3fm
- Opposing Viewpoint: Defending Big D
- What Happened Last Time: Game 3 recap
The Seattle Kraken are looking to capitalize on their growing home-ice advantage as they have a chance to put this series further out of reach for the Dallas Stars. Going back to Dallas 2-2 in the series wouldn’t spell the end of the world, but it would surely feel like a missed opportunity to strike a dagger.
However, the primary focus going into Game 4 revolves around the injury updates. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are often referred to as a “war of attrition,” and the Kraken are starting to learn this the hard way.
For the Kraken, Jared McCann’s status looms largest. The team’s leading goal-scorer has been out with an undisclosed injury since Game 4 against Colorado. While the Kraken have done well in his absence, gaining McCann back would certainly be welcome. The good news is that McCann has been skating with the team since they returned to Seattle — first with a non-contact jersey, then quickly swapping that for a full-contact sweater. As of Monday night, coach Dave Hakstol hasn’t indicated whether McCann will play in Game 4. Still, progress is better than no progress.
Another player’s status to keep an eye on is Daniel Sprong. Midway through the second period of Game 3, Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpää placed a hit on Sprong that kept him out of the remainder of the game. Similarly to McCann’s status, Hakstol gave no updates on Sprong on Monday.
On Dallas’s side, it’s the status of Miro Heiskanen that looms large. Heiskanen suffered an injury in Game 3 after Ty Kartye’s shot hit him in in the face. Early indications made it seem that perhaps the Stars chose to sit him for the rest of the game because of how quickly the Kraken wracked up the goals against them. Yet, Dallas’s head coach, Pete DeBoer, stated on Monday that “I would call him day to day.” While DeBoer sounded hopeful about Heiskanen’s Game 4 status, the chance exists for him to possibly sit out.
If Heiskanen doesn’t return for Game 4, it would be a huge boost for the Kraken. He should’ve been nominated for the Norris Trophy, but the Dallas Stars are always an afterthought to the NHL. Not only is he extremely skilled at what he does defensively, but he eats up a lot of ice time. Before Game 3, Heiskanen possessed the league lead in average ice time at 29:45. Yes, for almost half of each game, Heiskanen plays his dominant brand of defense. The Kraken put up seven goals without him out on the ice, and that may not be a coincidence.
However, Heiskanen returning for Game 4 would not spell danger. Remember: the Kraken dumped five goals on the Stars in Game 1. The Kraken’s depth serves them extremely well in this situation. Unless the Stars want to increase Heiskanen’s ice time to 60 minutes a game, the Kraken have 16 (and likely counting) players that can and will score a playoff goal. He cannot cover them all.
The Kraken need to carry this momentum with them into Game 4. Winning at home hasn’t been their strength, and they need to improve here. To that point, Sunday night’s game was only the second home win in the entire playoffs. Incidentally, both wins had Seattle sports power couple Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe in attendance. Maybe they’re the key to all this. Did someone check if they have Game 4 tickets?
Also, I have one final ask that would certainly help my sanity out going further into the playoffs: make the power play useful. Yes, the Kraken have been winning just fine without having successful power play metrics. I just wish they could do better.