Round 2, Game 4 Preview: Dallas Stars @ Seattle Kraken

Something happened in Seattle on Sunday, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was.

Round 2, Game 4 Preview: Dallas Stars @ Seattle Kraken
Credit: Tim Heitman / Dallas Stars

A team losing its best player in the middle of a game seems to have an impact on how well that team performs for the rest of the game. The rest of the hockey world may not recognize how vital Miro Heiskanen is to the Dallas Stars, but to anyone who has seen more than a handful of Stars games this (and previous) years, that should be obvious.

This season, Dallas played without Heiskanen for a three game stretch in late October, and thanks to a Jake Oettinger shutout, pulled off a 1-2-0 record during that stretch, while putting up two goals a game.

It's impossible to know what might have happened in game three against the Seattle Kraken with Heiskanen in the lineup, but without him, the team deflated rapidly. He is currently listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury, and given a puck to the face that put a sizable gash above his upper lip, the team will likely make a game time decision about his place in the lineup for Tuesday night's game four.

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)

The biggest question is whether the Stars take game three as a reason to reconfigure the lineup. There is some low hanging fruit out there - reuniting Pavelski with Hintz and Robertson as the first obvious adjustment.

Beyond that, is it finally time to address some of the elephants in the room. Does the pairing of Lindell and Hakanpää work, especially against a team that uses speed and a relentless forecheck as weapons? Does Nils Lundqvist, who's puck movement and offenive zone skills are more attuned to this series than many of the defenders in the lineup, get a chance at redemption?

All signs point toward Heiskanen playing in game four, but on the off chance that he isn't available, Dallas is going to need to get uncomfortably outside of the box.

Oettinger has bounced back before, and until shown otherwise, expect him to treat game three like a minor speedbump.

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)

Sprong missed shifts at the end of game three. His shooting talent is a significant part of the Kraken's fourth line success. Next up would be Jesper Froden, a more rounded player who may not be as attuned to the chaos that Donato and Tanev can bring.

Beyond that, Seattle is understandly thinking "more of that" and we win.

Keys to the Game

Heiskanen. Whether he plays primarily, but if he does, how much normalcy that returns to the Stars identity.

Punch in the Mouth. Mike Tyson hasn't left us with too many words of wisdom, but his "Everybody has a plan until the get punched in the mouth" hits close to home for this series. The Stars have the veteran leadership to not panic, but Seattle has the team playing reactive hockey. Dallas was in this same situation against the Minnesota Wild, but this time down 2-1 feels more urgent.

Everything Else. Seattle's depth means that they find the weakest link. Individuals don't need to step up, the whole team needs to step up.