Should the Kraken defeat the Dallas Stars in Game-7 on Monday evening at American Airlines Center, they would move on to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final starting later this week. No dates and times have been set yet for the Knights first two home games of the upcoming series after they eliminated the Edmonton Oilers Sunday evening with a 5-2 victory.
Vegas won their Western Conference semi-final four games to two.
“It hurts,” summed up the feelings of Oilers star forward Leon Draisaitl following Edmonton’s ouster.
Should the Kraken lose Game-7 in Dallas, they would return home to Seattle for player exit interviews with coaches and management and final media availabilities by the end of the week.
As we learned again Saturday night at Climate Pledge Arena, there is no quit in the Kraken and there is no way of predicting an outcome for Game-7.
All of the traditional cards were stacked against Seattle in Game-6 and the Kraken still managed to shuffle the deck. They came out strong, played 60 minutes, and came away with a 6-3 victory.
The next challenge is playing a Game-7 on the road in a hostile environment against a favorite.
“I’ll take Game-7 at home any day of the week,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer told us after the game Saturday night.
DeBoer also has the confidence of knowing he’s never lost a Game-7 in his time as an NHL head coach. He’s 6-and-0 in do-or-die series finales in his career; 1-and-0 as coach of the New Jersey Devils, 3-and-0 as coach of the San Jose Sharks, and 2-and-0 as bench boss of the Golden Knights.
“Let’s hope the streak continues,” he said Sunday.
Meanwhile, veteran forward Jaden Schwartz of the Kraken is a perfect 5-and-0 in Game-7’s in his career, while his teammate Justin Schultz is 4-and-0.
Seattle already has one Game-7 victory under its belt this postseason against the Colorado Avalanche. Again, on the road, hostile environment, against a favorite. The Kraken beat the Avalanche 2-1 on April 30th.
The most important element of that, Seattle goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 33 saves with a save percentage of .971 in that contest. He’ll likely need to be just as good against a star-studded, veteran Dallas line-up.
“We’ll have meetings, but we’ve got great experience in that dressing room,” DeBoer said. “Joe Pavelski, Ryan Suter, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, those guys have played lots of Game-7’s in their career and have risen to the occasion on a lot of different teams and at different times. They’ll drive the bus for our group messaging-wise and I’ve got great trust in them.”
The East Readies
The NHL’s Eastern Conference is a half-step ahead of the west, and will start its Conference Final between the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. Game-1 and Game-2 will be in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Carolina defeated the New Jersey Devils in five games while the Panthers did the same to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now it’s a mini-version of sit-around-and-wait. The Canes wrapped up their series last Thursday, the Panthers turned the trick on Friday night.
Two immediate notes of interest from our small hockey world: Paul Maurice, the head coach of the Cats, previously coached the Hurricanes for eleven seasons over two different stints, while former Carolina Stanley Cup winning captain (2006) Eric Staal now plays for Florida, as does his brother Marc. Their brother Jordan, who won a Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, is presently captain of the Canes.
Fun, fun, fun. Let’s get this party started. The final piece of the puzzle gets cut Monday night in Game-7 between the Kraken and Stars. Puck drop is a little after 5 pm pacific.