Round 2, Game 3 Preview: Dallas Stars @ Seattle Kraken
The Kraken took a body shot from the Stars in game two. But the series is far from over.
Talk about a wave of different emotions, how about that game two? After the "sky is falling" experience of game one, the Dallas Stars put on a dominant display. Per Natural Stat Trick, at 5x5, the Stars dished out 16 high danger chances to the Kraken's 4. The expected goal differential was 3.46 to .78 - and that's before power play opportunities are taken into account.
It could have been even better than the final 4-2 score.
Sticking to the "never too high, never too low" mantra, game two showed Dallas at their best and Seattle at their worst. The Kraken haven't been flayed into sushi - at least not yet. The puck, however, is in Seattle's zone - and Dave Hakstol has some adjustments to make.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Mason Marchment (27) - Max Domi (18) – Joe Pavelski (16)
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)
There isn't a whole lot to complain about with game two for Dallas. I suppose Robertson could find the net. He's looked tentative - but on the other hand, Seattle has done a great job of getting in the shooting lane on him when he has the puck and taking away his space when he doesn't.
Defensively, Lindell and Hakanpää were able to handle Seattle's pressure. For the Stars to be successful, that needs to continue for game three.
Oettinger has been good when he needs to be. One thing to watch for - at least based on the Calgary Flames series from last year and the Minnesota Wild this year. Oettinger seems to get better as a series progresses, almost like after a few games, he internalizes tendencies and makes adjustments as more games against the same team are played.
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)
Surprisingly, it was the middle of the lineup for the Kraken that broke down in game two. The Wennberg line in particular generated little, while giving up significant scoring chances. Likewise, the Oleksiak/Borgen pairing was on the ice for many of the Stars best chances.
With Pete DeBoer rolling lines, game three will likely feature Dave Hakstol attempting to isolate matchups that play to the Kraken's advantage. That could easily feature the skill from the top line or the tenacity of the fourth line against the weaker puck moving defenders of the Stars.
In any case, Seattle needs to reengage their aggressive forecheck and find a way to get chances from somewhere other than the boards.
Grubauer played well in game two. Holding the Stars to four goals may not look great, but without his play, it could easily have been worse.
One final thing. At some point, Seattle could get 40 goal scorer Jared McCann back, and that could change the entire series dynamic if he's close to 100%.
Keys to the Game
Forechecks. Seattle's forecheck was dominant in game one. The Stars brought their own for game two. The team that can exit the defensive zone with possession will have a significant advantage. This is especially true with both teams second defensive pairs - both of which have been taken advantage of in their team's loss.
First Goal. The Kraken have scored first throughout the playoffs. It allows them to dictate pace and force teams to add risk to their breakouts. Dallas knows how to play with a lead.
Goaltenders. This is almost always true, but Grubauer is near the lead for the playoffs is give up less goal than expected. Oettinger has been good, but he has another level that he hasn't reached yet in this series.