Kraken Say No
Imagine that alongside the recycling and compost receptacles at Climate Pledge Arena, there was a “Narrative Trash Bin.” As of Saturday night, it would be overflowing with all the things we thought we’d learned about the playoff series between the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken.
The Kraken defeated the Stars in Game-6, 6-3, to level their 2nd round series at 3-3. A winner-take-all Game-7 will be played Monday night in Big D.
Now-Trashed Narrative No. 1
We thought Dallas’ top players – Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, Tyler Seguin, Miro Heiskanen – had taken a chokehold on the series. They hadn’t.
Among the players mentioned, only Pavelski scored (his 8th goal of the series). Robertson, Seguin and Heiskanen were limited to one assist each, and Hintz was held off the scoresheet.
Now-Trashed Narrative No. 2
We thought Dallas would once again dominate the dot. They didn’t.
Dallas tops all 16 playoff teams in faceoff win percentage. Seattle is last, a continuation of a season-long issue. Yet in Game-6, the Stars held just a 52-48% edge in draws. That improvement helped the Kraken the most on special teams.
Now-Trashed Narrative No. 3
We thought the Kraken power play was as dead as a Texas roadside armadillo. Through five games, they’d only scored on one of 10 extra-man opportunities. Maybe worse, they’d looked bad in the process.
Not so in Game-6. Seattle looked strong on all three of its power plays; winning draws, creating mayhem, and building offensive momentum. They even scored once, Jordan Eberle’s 5th of the playoffs, to put the Kraken up for good, 2-1, late in the 1st period.
Eberle would seal the victory with his 6th, an empty net tally. Dallas coach Pete DeBoer had pulled backup goalie Scott Wedgewood for an extra skater with almost four minutes left, to no avail.
Now-Trashed Narrative No. 4
We thought Stars’ goalie Jake Oettinger had regained his swagger. Maybe he left it in his hotel room.
Instead, the Kraken made Oettinger look shaky, and not for the first time in the series. Saturday, he allowed four goals on 18 Seattle shots, and was benched by coach DeBoer before the 2nd period was five minutes old.
Oettinger’s save percentage for each game so far has had more ups and downs than an EKG: .886, .926, .706, .842, .935, .778. The Kraken have certainly gotten into his head more than he’s gotten into theirs.
Somewhat-Trashed Narrative No. 5
We thought Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer had lost his swagger.
Can we get back to you on this?
Grubauer had a harder performance to judge. He faced just 23 shots on goal, saving 20. Two other Dallas shots rang off the goalpost. Meanwhile, the Stars missed other open looks, or had their chances stifled by the 23 blocks recorded by Kraken skaters.
One of those blocks came late in the first period, with Dallas trailing 2-1 but on the power play. Captain Jamie Benn’s bid to tie the game, with a lot of net to shoot at, was deflected out of harm’s way by Adam Larsson. Coaches like to call Larsson’s play a “good stick.”
Grubauer’s best moments came in a 2nd period sequence, with three saves in short order. Two of those thwarted Benn, the third Mason Marchment.
Considering Oettenger vs. Grubauer in Game-7 Monday night, the winning netminder won’t necessarily have to “steal” the victory, just simply not give it away.
Now-Trashed Narrative No. 6
We thought the Kraken couldn’t benefit from home ice advantage… because all regular season and playoffs, they hadn’t benefitted from home ice advantage.
When they absolutely had to win to extend their season, the Kraken and fans energized each other. For just the second game in the series, they scored first. They threw their weight around (hits finished 46-46). They didn’t play desperate, they played smart.
There was also a concern that the team had finally run out of gas. But if it’s possible to transfer energy from the stands to the ice, Kraken fans did their part, and the Seattle bench became a charging station.
Can they win a second-straight Game-7 on enemy ice against a heavily-favored opponent? The narrative says they can’t. But you know how much that matters, right?
Editor’s note – A sentiment expressed in the media room prior to Game-6, “traditionally this isn’t a good spot for a team in the Kraken’s position, but it’s hard to say they’re a lock to lose because the Kraken aren’t your typical team.”