Round 2, Game 5 Preview: Seattle Kraken @ Dallas Stars
The Kraken cracked in game 4. We've seen this story before - against the Wild, the Stars rode the momentum to a series win. But, Seattle has bounced back before (and they keep on coming).
Miro Heiskanen made a triumphant return to the Dallas Stars lineup for game four, at least if you pay attention to The Athletic's professional journalist. Out in the twitterverse, Stars fans erupted in response to Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath if you aren't one of the cool kids) speaking truth to power - that maybe Heiskanen didn't have his best game in his return?
Even @DallasStars jumped into the fray - although they subsequently deleted the evidence.
Is it a cop-out if I think that both are true?
Regardless, Dallas put things away in decisive fashion - limiting shots by the Seattle Kraken until the game was well in hand. Not that the familiar Victory Green turtle didn't make a showing, but Star Fan panic never really had a chance to take hold.
So, there will be a game five (and a subsequent game six). The Minnesota Wild narrative is still out there, and as different as these two series have been, the final results eerily match up. A lazy man's way to a six game Stars series win. With each team showing the ability to make adjustments and to dominate for lengthy stretches of time, its as good a story as most, for now.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Ty Dellandrea (10) - Max Domi (18) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Luke Glendening (11) - Radek Faksa (12)
Ryan Suter (20) – Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) – Colin Miller (6)
Thomas Harley (55) - Joel Hanley (44)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
Mason Marchment went down with an elbow to the head, and his availability is still unknown. Dellandrea was out sick, but likely returns. If both are out, we could get our first playoff look at Fredrik Olofsson.
The Harley-Hanley pairing worked well. Hanley rarely jumps into the play, which leaves Harley the option - and he used it to perfection in game four. There is no update on Hakanpää, but his size isn't particularly effective against the Kraken's speed, so for the second series in a row, Hanley will likely finish drawing in after starting in the press box.
Oettinger was good when it counted. The Kraken haven't seen his shutdown game yet.
Seattle Kraken Lineup
Jared McCann (7) - 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) - Tye Kartye (52)
Vince Dunn (29) - Adam Larsson (6)
Jamie Oleksiak (24) - William Borgen (3)
Carson Soucy (28) - Justin Schultz (4)
Philipp Grubauer (31)
Martin Jones (30)
McCann was excellent in his return to the lineup after missing the first three games of the series in concussion protocol. Expect him to spend game five on Seattle's top line, with Kartye moving to the fourth line, replacing Daniel Sprong.
Defensively, the Oleksiak and Borgen (especially Borgen) pairing has been the weakest.
Grubauer has been good, but the Stars are beginning to find space high glove and high blocker.
Keys to the Game
Middle Six. Seattle is known for contributions throughout the lineup. When the Stars have been successful, their middle six have kicked in and taken the team over the top.
Special Teams. Slowly, but surely, the advantage that Dallas has on the power play and the penalty kill have shown up in the series. There haven't been many opportunities either way, but when the chances come, the Stars need to take advantage.
Goaltending. Neither goaltender has put the series on their shoulders. In the Minnesota series, Oettinger took over from game five forward. For this series, netminding has played to a stalemate, but with three games remaining in an even series, its likely that a hot netminder takes his team to the next round.