As of the 2022-23 NHL season, many believe that Seattle Kraken would be better in Year 2 than they were in Year 1. Few predicted they would make the postseason. Few predicted they would be in the Western Conference finals.
To reach that level, they need to win the next two games, and Dallas Stars they have their own plans in mind — meaning making the final meeting. I’m winning in Seattle on Saturday night (7 and ESPN), Stars will do that.
Before these two teams take the ice at the Climate Pledge Arena, let’s get ready. We’ve put together a guide to what to expect from each team, including key wins from Ryan S. Clark and in-depth ESPN Stats & Information.
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Clark’s keys to success
Kraken must find consistency in the web
Goaltending was already a problem for the Kraken, and what happened in their last two games has brought that concern back to life, with Phillip Grubauer allowing nine goals in his last two starts.
It’s a contrast to Grubauer’s performance in the first half, when he was one of the main reasons the Kraken upset the eventual Stanley Cup champion. Colorado Avalanche in seven games. He finished the series with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.
Enjoy what happened against the Stars. Grubauer has only had one game in which he has allowed less than two goals. For the series, Grubauer has a 4.21 GAA and .858 SV% in five games. His teammates must play well, too.
“You give them speed, you give them looks – they’re a good team, they have a lot of offensive players, and they’re going to win,” the Kraken player said. Jordan Eberle he said after Game 5. “That’s the frustrating part. We’ve got to find a way to continue to play aggressively without giving them a grade-A advantage.”
Creating more scoring opportunities — and participating
Consider what the Kraken did when they opened the series with a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 1. Part of the reason they won came from the big shots, scoring opportunities and chances they created in that victory. .
Since then, those opportunities have been hard to come by. Especially when looking at the Kraken’s metrics over the past two games and how those stats compare to their overall postseason team. Overall, the Kraken are seventh in 5-on-5 shooting per game at 29.47 per game, ninth in scoring chances per 5-on-5 game at 11.13 per game, and last in scoring opportunities. 5-on-5 play at 24.46 per game.
Games 4 and 5 were worse; the Kraken shot 21.5 shots per game in 5-on-5 play during that stretch, including an average of 17 field goal chances and a dangerous eight field goal chances per game.
“We’re going to have to be a little more patient to not give up on the plays we did and we’re going to have to be a little more aggressive to create more on the other end of the rink,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. after Game 5. “They did a really good job of making it difficult to get inside and difficult to get to their net. They were good in that area tonight.”
Stars will look to have a ‘big time’
Every playoff series has its own routine. And at this point, it looks like the Stars might have mastered what has defined this second series: one team blowing up for so many seasons.
For the Stars, it started in Game 2 when they scored three goals in the second period and won 4-2 to tie the game. They scored four goals in the second period in a 6-3 victory that sent them into Game 4 for the second time.
Game 5 was a little different with the Stars scoring two goals in the first and third periods. That’s what led the Stars to a 5-2 victory as they nearly fell from the Kraken.
“We struggled a lot. We didn’t have good legs. A 3-0 lead in hockey is very difficult,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “The other team has nothing to lose, and they poured on it, their defender was on the ice all night. They put a lot of pressure on us. You have to win all kinds of ways in the playoff game, and I won. He was proud of our team.”
Let’s go Roope Hintz to cook
Joe Pavelski scoring four goals in Game 1 came with his own credit; it was his first game back after being concussed in Round 1. But it gave another cause for concern considering he is the only Stars player to win the first game of the series.
It’s possible that the Stars found the answer. They had four different players in Game 2, and now they have won the Western Conference finals as they have had six players score 11 goals in the last two games.
Roope Hintz is one of the people who has been at the heart of the problem. He finished Game 5 with a one-goal, three-pointer that did more than see the Stars take a 3-2 series lead. Hintz’s efforts are why he entered Friday after his arrest Edmonton Oilers superstar center is the winner of the 2020 Hart Trophy Leon Draisaitl for the postseason lead with 18.
“He is strong. He is a worker and he does everything for us, he kills penalties, on the power play, in the starting minutes – he does everything, “Star mbele. Jason Robertson he said. “He is well respected in our line, we know what he brings, we know what he will continue to do. He is very talented, very fast and definitely one of the best scorers in this team.”
Comments from ESPN Stats & Information
The Kraken won’t want to fall behind early, as they have just one comeback win this postseason, going 0-3 when trailing by one and 0-4 when trailing by two.
The scoring depth has continued into the Kraken’s postseason. They have 18 players with one goal, the most of any team. The most wins in a single season by a team in NHL history is 21, with the 1986-87 Flyers and 2018-19 Bruins.
Of those 18 players, six are defenders. This is the largest team in the 2023 playoffs, and just one shy of making multiple teams at once in NHL history.
Jared McCann scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 5 for the Kraken. He was a key player in the Kraken’s run to the playoffs. During the regular season, the Kraken were 24-7-3 in games in which McCann scored.
Kraken star Philipp Grubauer has given up 36 goals in 12 recent starts. His 36 goals against are the most among all players, and six more than the next player on the list (Stuart Skinner and Jake Oettingerboth are 30).
The Stars scored five or more goals in back-to-back games for just the third time in Dallas team history; they did it again in 2020 (three straight games from Game 6 of Round 1 to Game 2 of Round 2) and 2019 (Games 4 and 5 of Round 1).
At the other end of the ice, the Stars are allowing an average of 3.00 goals against per game, the second best average among the rest of the playoff teams, behind the Hurricanes at 2.60.
The protector Miro Heiskanen has eight assists in 11 playoff games this season. He is now tied with Ray Bourque for the fifth most assists (32) by a defenseman before 24 turnovers in NHL history. Most are 50, by Paul Coffey.
Joe Pavelski has been on a tear with seven goals this season, tied for third among all players. Pavelski has only one goal to tie Martin St. Louis (eight in 2014) and Johnny Bucyk (eight in 1974) are the most players age 38 or older in a single postseason in NHL history.
Pavelski is also the oldest player in NHL history to score seven goals in a series. Maurice Richard previously hit (seven in 1958) at age 36. The most goals by any American-born player in one playoff series is eight, by three players: Jake Guentzel (2022 Round 1), RJ Umberger (2008 Conference semifinals) and Pat LaFontaine (1992 division semifinals).