Round 2, Game 1 Preview: Seattle Kraken @ Dallas Stars
New team, new challenges face Stars enter the next phase of the playoffs. The Kraken aren't the Wild - batten down the hatches.
Each playoff series is its own story. In the opening round, the Minnesota Wild offerered themselves up as a brutish Frankenstein's monster. The Dallas Stars prevail by keeping their wits about them.
With round two, the narrative switches. Gone is the take the body first proposition. The series against the Seattle Kraken is all about speed. If you want an in depth, strategic breakdown of the teams, please take another look at David Castillo's excellent piece from earlier today.
For the Stars, that means moving the puck out of their defensive end and through the neutral zone without falling victim to an aggressive Kraken forecheck. It means creating chances, off the rush - a dangerous proposition against a team that is laying traps, daring Dallas to try and blow through the center of the ice with speed. Or, through running the cycle and pinching from the point without falling victim to the odd man rush off of the stretch pass.
Dallas has had trouble with speedy teams that stretch the ice in the past. In the playoffs, however, they have a chance to plan for that game - which should allow them to limit dangerous odd man chances. Of course, this is a Stars team that gave up their share of just those chances to a Wild team not known for their speed.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Mason Marchment (27) - Max Domi (18) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Luke Glendening (11) - Radek Faksa (12) - Ty Dellandrea (10)
Ryan Suter (20) – Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Thomas Harley (55) - Colin Miller (6)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
Pavelski is a game time decision. He may slot in lower in the lineup, allowing for him to ease back into game action. With Pavelski out, Joel Kiviranta is likely candidate to draw in. Basically, the Stars game one lineup against the Kraken looks a whole lot like the lineup for game one against Minnesota.
Seattle Kraken Lineup
Tye Kartye (52) - Matthew Beniers (10) - Jordan Eberle (7)
Jaden Schwartz (17) - Alexander Wennberg (21) - Morgan Geekie (67)
Eeli Tolvanen (20 - Yanni Gourde (37) - Oliver Bjorkstrand (22)
Brandon Tanev (13) - Ryan Donato (9) - Daniel Sprong (91)
Vince Dunn (29) - Adam Larsson (6)
Jamie Oleksiak (24) - William Borgen (3)
Carson Soucy (28) - Justin Schultz (4)
Philipp Grubauer (31)
Martin Jones (30)
The Kraken score up and down the lineup. They are missing their top scorer from the regular season, Jared McCann. That creates a large hole in the lineup, but Seattle has operated under a "next man up" philosophy all year, and Kartye (the best rookie scorer in the AHL this year) stepped up and contributed immediately.
Adam Larsson keys a solid defense, and he will be key in trying to keep the Stars top line in check. Grubauer plays great against the Colorado Avalanche - the question is whether he can carry that over to an additional playoff series.
Keys to the Game
Top Line Dominance. The biggest difference between the two teams (outside of net) is the Stars top line. If Seattle can't break their cycle/speed game, the series could end quickly.
Net. Jake Oettinger improved as the Wild series moved on. He seems locked in and ready to take anything that gets thrown his way. Grubauer was a gamechanger against the Avalanche and has a history of upping his game in the playoffs.
Clogging the middle. Dallas enters series two facing an opponent that plays a system significantly different than their first series. What worked against the Wild may not be the best option against the Kraken. If the Stars can control the pace of the game and not fall into the temptation of playing pond hockey against a speed team, Dallas should be able to grind out a series win.