65 games into the season, the Dallas Stars get their first look at the Seattle Kraken. Following a 10 goal outburst, and a 2600 mile, cross country flight, the Stars will get their fill of the Kraken, with two games in three days.
Throw in a Saturday/Sunday first ever matchup between the Texas Stars and the Coachella Valley Firebirds in Palm Desert, and these two organizations are set to find out where they sit with playoffs on the horizon for all four teams.
Say what you will about the quality of competition for the Stars during the month of March, but the team is on an offensive heater. Seattle is in somewhat the same situation, having scored 21 goals over five games, while winning four of those five. As with Dallas, the competition hasn’t been that great, but the Kraken are a team with a shot at the top spot in the Pacific, and a good showing against the Stars over the next 11 days would go a long way to getting the team there.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Mason Marchment (27) – Max Domi (18) - Ty Dellandrea (10)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeny Dadonov (63)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Radek Faksa (12) – Fredrik Olofsson (42)
Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Matt Murray (32)
Losing Tyler Seguin, even if it is just for a few games, throws a monkey wrench into the plans to solidify the second line. Since uniting Marchment and Domi, the offense has certainly been there, but the second line has also been coughing up chances. So far, it’s been break even from an expected goals point of view, but it’s hard to argue against the infusion of offense.
Adding Dellandrea to the mix should add some defense to the group, but it remains to be seen whether there will be a corresponding decrease in offensive output.
Oettinger hasn’t been getting much rest since Scott Wedgewood went down with a nagging injury. At some point, likely on the back to back early next week, Matt Murray should draw in, but not on Saturday.
Seattle Kraken Lineup
Jared McCann (19) - Matthew Beniers (10) - Jordan Eberle (7)
Jaden Schwartz (17) - Alexander Wennberg (21) - Oliver Bjorkstrand (22)
Eeli Tolvanen (20) - Yanni Gourde (37) - Jesper Froden (38)
Daniel Sprong (91) - Morgan Geekie (67) - Brandon Tanev (13)
Vince Dunn (29) - Adam Larsson (6)
Jamie Oleksiak (24) - William Borgen (3)
Carson Soucy (28) - Justin Schultz (4)
Martin Jones (30)
Philipp Grubauer (31)
The Kraken are one of the most improved teams in the NHL this year. Surprisingly, there haven’t been that many changes to the lineup to explain that change.
Seattle rolls out four contributing lines. There aren’t any superstars, but most of the team’s forwards are what you would consider to be solid middle six. Tolvanen has proven to be a steal off of waivers from the Nashville Predators.
Jamie Oleksiak is playing his 500th game, more than half of which game wearing Victory Green. Like the forward lines, the defensive pairs are solid, but without a superstar.
Jones has taken the majority of the starts (and has the better record), but neither he nor Grubauer have been great. Both are sitting around three goals against per game, with an 89% save percentage.
Keys to the Game
Jetlag and the Scoring Hangover. There’s nothing like a cross country trip following a game where everything went the teams way. Dallas needs to get back to the grind.
Beniers vs. Johnston. Outside of Dallas, this doesn’t play. Beniers is the odds-on favorite for the Calder Trophy, whereas Johnston is hardly in the conversation. The numbers aren’t all that different. This is a great opportunity for Johnston to show what he brings.
Depth vs. Depth. Both teams roll lines. Find a line that can exploit a weakness in its matchup.