Kraken vs Stars – Everything You Need To Know

The Seattle Kraken are off to the second round of the playoffs after a thrilling Game 7 win against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche. In the process, they became the first NHL team to win the first-ever series in franchise history against the defending champs and the second-ever team to score the first goal in all seven games of a series joining the 2004 Toronto Maple Leafs. Now, Seattle must prepare for a quick turnaround as they get set to open their second-round series against the Dallas Stars on May 2, 2023.

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

This season, the Kraken and Stars met three times, with Dallas winning two of the three games. Only one of the games was separated by more than one goal, with the Stars outscoring Seattle 13-10 in the season series. If the Kraken want to pull off another upset, they are going to have to find a way to grind out wins as they did in the first round and hope that Philipp Grubauer can continue the remarkable play he demonstrated against the Avalanche.

Stars to Watch

Up front, Seattle needs to find a way to shut down center Roope Hintz. The Finnish forward is coming off a career season where he posted 75 points in 73 games and has started the playoffs hot with five goals and 12 points in his first six games. He plays in all situations for the Stars and has at least one goal at even strength on the power play and shorthanded so far in the postseason. One of the league’s underrated superstars, the Kraken need to be wary whenever the puck is on his stick.

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On defence, one player Seattle is expected to see a lot of is Miro Heiskanen. Through six games in the playoffs, he has averaged 29:03 of ice time which included a 41:42 night during the Stars’ Game 1 double-overtime loss to Minnesota. To say the Wild had difficulties scoring while he was on the ice is an understatement, as, in 141:52 of even-strength ice time, the Wild managed just three goals. He also helped played a major role in keeping 40-goal scorer Kirill Kaprizov off the scoresheet as in 63:09 of even strength and special teams ice time against him, the Russian sniper did not record a single point. The Kraken’s top two lines are going to see plenty of the Finnish defenceman, which is why they will once again need their bottom six and blue line to produce goals when he is not on the ice if Seattle wants to advance to the Western Conference Final.

Lastly, in the net is one of the top young goaltenders in the league, Jake Oettinger. He was fantastic against the Wild, stopping 170 of the 183 shots he faced, which included posting a 27-save shutout at home in Game 5. Looking back, he has been really good against the Kraken over his career, posting a 4-1-1 record with a .901 save percentage and a goals-against average of 2.83. If Seattle can find a way to get him off his game, they have a chance; otherwise, this could be a short and frustrating series.

Kraken to Watch

If the Kraken are going to advance, Grubauer will need to stand on his head once again and be the team’s MVP. No goalie in the first round faced more shots and made more saves than Seattle’s keeper as he limited Colorado to 17 goals over the seven games. He is going to be facing a Dallas team that scored 21 times in just six games while averaging over 31 shots per game, so expect him to be busy throughout the series.

Related: Kraken’s McCann, Dunn Growing Into Elite Players

Seattle’s third line of Eeli Tolvanen, Yanni Gourde and Oliver Bjorkstrand will also be crucial to the Kraken’s success as they will be tasked with shutting down Dallas’ first line of Joe Pavelski, Hintz and Jason Robertson. If they can outshoot the Stars’ top line, it could mean success for Seattle, as every time the trio posted a shots for percentage of 50% or higher in the first round, the Kraken won the game. The hope is this trend can continue into the second round, as long as the trio can find a way to outshoot the Stars every game.

The last player to watch is Jaden Schwartz, who was one of Seattle’s best players in the first round. He was tied for the team lead in goals with two and shots with 28, while his five points were tied for second with Justin Schultz. This is a leader who knows how to win and will be leaned upon heavily in what will be a tough matchup against the Stars.

Special Teams Will Decide Series

One of the reasons Seattle was able to defeat Colorado in the first round was the penalty kill. The Kraken held the Avalanche to one goal on 18 attempts, effectively eliminating one of the best power plays in the league from the series. Dallas, on the other hand, had no problems scoring with the man advantage in the first round, going nine for 24 on the power play. If Seattle can once again limit the Stars’ scoring on the power play, it could be the difference between going home and moving on.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Kraken’s 2-1 Game 7 Win Over the Avalanche

On the other side, the Kraken need to find a way to score on the power play. They went three for 21 in the first round and even gave up a shorthanded goal. Dallas has a good penalty killing unit that only gave up four goals on 22 attempts in the first round and also proved to be one of the most dangerous teams shorthanded scoring ten goals during the regular season while shorthanded. Goals are going to be hard to come by in this series which is why Seattle needs to capitalize on their opportunities and find a way to break through with the man advantage.

Predictions From THW’s Kraken Team

Sean Raggio

The Kraken proved many people wrong in Round 1. They get rewarded by going up against Oettinger, who is having an outstanding postseason, and the Stars. The Kraken need more offensive contributions from Matty Beniers and Vince Dunn, especially with McCann out. Their depth has clearly won for them before, but given the regular season that pair has had, they need to rediscover that scoring touch. I think it could be Kraken in six or Stars in seven. Grubauer needs to sustain this level for more than a series, which I think the quick turnaround time can aid. He’s the key for the Kraken, as in my eyes, goaltending will be the deciding factor in this series.

Brian Finlayson

While everyone is still trying to calm down after that memorable Game 7, the attention now has to shift to the Stars less than 48 hours after the Kraken closed their series against the Avalanche. I’m still trying to grasp how incredible that accomplishment was, but as the cliché goes, the journey has only just begun. Now, they set their sights on a Dallas team that recently sent the Wild packing in six games. The Stars won the season series between the two teams, but after that first round, the regular season seems like a distant memory. Ultimately, the Kraken will have to find a way to counteract the potent offense from players like Robertson and Hintz.

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They’ll have to figure that out while continuing to do what they do best, which is scoring from anywhere in the lineup. The depth scoring is needed as they wait for McCann to return from injury, but that didn’t stop them from sending the Avalanche home. The goaltending matchup is a bit of a wildcard, as Oettinger is a proven playoff performer, but Grubauer is coming off an outstanding series where he was one of the best goalies of the first round. With all that in mind, it’s hard not to believe that the Kraken can make some noise after such an incredible showing against the reigning Stanley Cup champions. I’m picking the Kraken in six games, but it will be an incredibly hard-fought series until the bitter end.

Adam Kierszenblat

This Kraken team is special. They pulled off an upset few predicted and are playing a style of hockey that is built to win in the playoffs. They now face a tough Stars team that has one of the best goaltenders in the league, has depth scoring and one of the better defensive groups in the NHL. This is why predicting the series is very tough. Both these teams are playing at an extremely high level which will lead to exciting hockey at both ends of the ice. While it would make me extremely happy to see Seattle push through, I think the Stars will take this series in six games and, eventually, make it to the Stanley Cup Final.

Will The Kraken Pull Off Another Upset?

If the Kraken play the way they did against Colorado at even strength, there is no question they can pull off another upset in Round 2. They are a cohesive group that is playing their best hockey of the season, but so are the Stars. Regardless of the outcome, this is going to be an exciting series, with Game 1 set for May 2, 2023, from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.