3 Takeaways From Kraken’s 5-2 Game 5 Loss to Stars

In Game 5 of their second-round series against the Dallas Stars, the Seattle Kraken fell 5-2 and are now on the brink of elimination heading into Game 6. While the Kraken may have led in shots, the Stars were able to generate more quality chances, scoring five or more goals for the second consecutive game. Here are three takeaways from the game.

Kraken’s Shot Quality A Problem

When looking at the game’s box score, some may say that the reason Seattle lost is because of Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger. The Kraken fired 31 shots at him, including 14 in the first period, and only managed to get two behind him. He also faced 11 more shots than Philipp Grubauer, who allowed three goals on the first seven shots and finished the night with a save percentage of .935 which was the highest he has recorded through the first five games of the series. So yes, he was good, but the real reason the Kraken couldn’t score was because they made his life too easy from start to finish.

2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 Seattle Kraken Dallas Stars
Seattle Kraken Dallas Stars (The Hockey Writers)

In all three periods, Seattle generated fewer high-danger scoring chances and favoured shots from distance rather than creating opportunities right in front of the goal mouth. While Grubauer was forced to deal with constant traffic and shots coming from an average of 36.50 feet away, Oettinger was able to stay calm and collected in the net as the average he faced was 44.87 feet. The heat maps from last night’s game really put it into perspective, as while the Kraken’s crease was covered with data points from shots and rebounds, there was not a single one inside the Stars’ crease. Going into Game 6, Seattle needs to do a better job of creating high-danger scoring chances as well as getting bodies toward the net to create some havoc and make life difficult for the Stars’ defenders and goaltender.

A Big Game for the Big Cat

Defenceman Adam Larsson, or as he is known around Seattle, Big Cat, had arguably his best game of the playoffs in Game 5. Not only did he score the Kraken’s opening goal, but he also played a factor in the second goal of the game by driving to the net, causing the puck to bounce off the defender who was checking him and into the net. He also was tied for the team lead in shots with four, threw two hits, and played 24:40 of ice time. The 30-year-old continues to deliver for this Seattle team, with last night’s game being an example of what he can bring from an offensive perspective.

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From an analytics perspective, no player was better than Larsson in the game. The Kraken outshot the Stars 17-9 with him on the ice while generating 12 scoring chances compared to giving up six. Seattle also generated five high-danger chances compared to four conceded while he was tied for the team lead with two individual high-danger scoring chances with Oliver Bjorkstrand. If the Kraken are going to have a chance to win their next two games and advance to the Western Conference Final, his play will be crucial as he has been one of the team’s best players since they first stepped on the ice last season.

Stars’ First Line Takes Over

It was only a matter of time before the Stars’ first line of Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and Jason Robertson took over a game. The trio was on the ice for 52 goals scored in the regular season, which was ten more than any other line combination, and showed off their offensive talents in Game 5, scoring three of the Stars’ five goals. By the end of the game, they had combined for eight points and swept the three stars’ selection for the evening showing just how unstoppable they can be when they are on their games.

The advanced analytics from this game shows just how dominant they were when on the ice. The trio played a total of 11:40 together and finished the night with five high-danger chances created compared to just one conceded. They also outscored the Kraken 3-0 and won the scoring chances battle 8-5. These three are going to be a problem in Game 6, and it is paramount that Seattle finds a way to shut them down to force a Game 7 back in Dallas.

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Kraken Return Home for Must-Win Game

Facing elimination for the first time in front of their hometown fans, the Kraken need to find a way to regroup and return to the style of play that has got them this far in the playoffs. They lost too many individual battles in Game 5, and while they threw more hits, they lost the physical battle to the Stars. Game 6 is scheduled for May 13 at 4 PM PST in what may be the final opportunity for Kraken fans to watch playoff hockey this season.

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