Seattle Kraken, Daniel Sprong

Kraken Game Day; What To Expect From Game-1

The Kraken are in a less than advantageous position. Historically it’s not been easy for teams winning a Game-7 to turn around and start another series two nights later with a whole lot of success.

A slow start would be understandable given the emotional relief the Kraken just experienced, combined with a general lack of turnaround time, especially considering the Dallas Stars have had a little extra time to rest, but not too much. Two extra days for a total of four.

All that said, the Kraken are not your typical hockey team.

It was impossible to predict the outcomes of Game-1 and Game-7 of the last series in particular, because there was just no way of knowing how this second year club would react. They obviously reacted well, riding out the low moments to come through with crucial wins.

I guess we can stop calling them a “second year hockey team” at this point because it doesn’t really matter. They’re together now. They’re a hockey team, and a damn good one.

Kraken Foe

The Dallas Stars are coming off a six-game, Round-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, a series that was tied at two games apiece before the Stars came away with two convincing wins to wrap it up.

Forward Roope Hintz blew up. The 26-year-old Finnish centerman tallied a hat trick and an assist in a Game-2 blow-out, later notching three assists in both Game-5 and Game-6. He averaged two points a game and leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs in scoring with 12 points.

The other main spotlight has been on Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger. The 3rd-year NHLer from Lakeville, Minnesota has all-world playoff numbers thus far, a 2.01 goals against average and a .929 save percentage (92.9%). Oettinger had even crazier numbers last postseason, his club falling just short in a 1st-round, Game-7 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames.

Stars forward and captain Jamie Benn is one to be appreciated. He’ll mix things up, drop the mitts if he has to, while bringing a balance of power and skill. Tyler Seguin is a well entrenched star up front, while Wyatt Johnston is their rookie to watch, statistically Matty Beniers-lite. Beniers had 57 points in the regular season to Johnston’s 41.

Bad news for the Kraken: Cagey, wiley veteran Joe Pavelski may return to the line-up after being injured in Game-1 of the series against the Wild. He suffered a concussion on a big hit by Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba, combined with being wedged in the head by teammate Ryan Hartman’s stick at the same time.

The Stars are otherwise healthy.

Defenseman Miro Heiskanen is a former 3rd-overall pick and a participant at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game and a member of the NHL All-rookie team the same year. He’s better than a half-a-point-a-game player from the blueline over his career.

Kraken Intangibles

We’ll find out more about the status of injured Kraken forward Jared McCann at the morning skate on Tuesday. He’s been considered day-to-day since the Cale Makar hit that knocked him out of Game-4 and the rest of the 1st-round.

Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer said he was “exhausted” after Game-7 in Denver. He’s been fantastic and the Stars will try to tire him out again quickly.

The Kraken love playing on the road. They had the 4th best road record in the NHL during the regular season and went 3-and-1 at Ball Arena against the Avalanche last round.

Seattle’s penalty kill has been terrific, the most important factor on special teams in the postseason. Teams have won Stanley Cups without proficient power plays, but pulling it off with a sub-par PK … good luck. The Kraken killed off 88% of opposing power plays over the final month of the regular season and snuffed out 16 of 18 Avalanche man advantages in Round-1.

— Here’s the game recaps from the Stars – Kraken regular season match-ups, all 3 in the month of March:

— March 11th – Stars clip the Kraken in overtime, 4-3.

— March 13th – The Stars beat the Kraken twice in two days, this time in convincing fashion, 5-2.

— March 21st – The Kraken get overtime revenge, 5-4 in Dallas.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.