The Dallas Stars take on the Seattle Kraken in their final Saturday game of the regular season. Tonight will begin a four-game homestand to finish out the season.
The Stars Align…Maybe?
The Kraken are 30th in the NHL. They hold a minus-65 goal differential, the worst save percentage in the league (.881), and allow 3.14 goals per game. They have a horrendous 11-24-3 road record and are coming off a 6-3 loss in Minnesota on Friday night. This means that Dallas will be taking on a team that struggles in nearly every area on the second night of a back-to-back with travel in between. So everything lines up for a dominant Stars win, right?
Well, unfortunately, Dallas has struggled in these situations this season. The Stars have some huge wins against top opponents in the league but have just as many disappointing losses to the cellar dwellers near the bottom of the standings. Over the last two months, they have losses to the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks (2), and these Seattle Kraken (4-1 in Seattle on April 3). On top of that, they needed huge efforts to defeat other low-tier teams in games that were much tighter than they should have been. Now that everything is on the line in the final week of the season, can Dallas overcome these issues?
“It’s a hard lesson to learn, obviously,” Jake Oettinger said. “We know the situation we’re in. But we’re feeling confident we can go home and win those games.”
Stars Looking to Rebound From Road Trip
The Stars are very aware of their current situation. After three straight losses on the road and defeats in four of the last five games, they sit in a tight playoff race with only four games left in the season. All four games will take place in Dallas and all four will be against non-playoff teams (Vegas on 4/26).
“We’re going home with great fans, and if we have to do it the hard way, we’ll do it the hard way,” Rick Bowness said. “We get back to a great atmosphere in our rink. We still control our own destiny, we just have to take full advantage of it, and we’re going to.”
The math is quite simple for Dallas. Vegas has four games remaining on their schedule, meaning they can record a maximum of eight points (97). If the Stars can record seven points in their final four games (98), they will be a playoff team. Obviously, if Vegas loses any points, the path gets easier for the Stars. But as of now, the Stars need to be nearly perfect in the final week, especially if they have any chance of overtaking Nashville for the top wild card.
“We would’ve liked to have locked up our spot already,” said Oettinger, who had a solid night with 33 saves against Calgary. “This road trip, I think we gave some other teams some life. There’s no one else to blame. It’s in our hands, and we have every opportunity to make the playoffs, and I think we’re excited about the opportunity.”
Kraken Scouting Report
After an impressive 3-2 home victory over the league-leading Colorado Avalanche, the Kraken came up short in a 6-3 loss in Minnesota on Friday night. Since making history as the first draft selection in Kraken history, Matthew Beniers joined the team following his season at the University of Michigan. The rookie forward recorded an assist in his first game and has tallied a point in each of his first five NHL games. Jared McCann and Yanni Gourde have led the way for Seattle all season with 47 and 45 points over 69 games.
Philipp Grubauer has carried the load in goal, starting 54 games this season for the Kraken. His numbers have been poor, as he holds a 3.14 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. Grubauer played on Friday against Minnesota so expect to see backup Chris Driedger in net in Dallas.
- Dallas was forced to cancel morning skate due to travel issues coming home from Calgary. Any updates in the lineup will be given closer to puck drop.
He Said It
“If we have to do it the hard way, we’ll do it the hard way,” Bowness said. “We get back to a great atmosphere in our rink. We still control our own destiny, we just have to take full advantage of it, and we’re going to.”
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!