3 keys to the series as Stars, Kraken meet for first time in playoffs

Dallas Stars, Max Domi #18, Seattle Kraken, Matty Beniers #10. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Dallas Stars, Max Domi #18, Seattle Kraken, Matty Beniers #10. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

For the first time ever, the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken will meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This series will pit the second-place team in the Central Division, the Stars, against the top wild card team in the Western Conference, the Kraken. The teams met three times this season, all within a span of two weeks in March. Dallas won the regular season series with a record of 2-0-1.

To get to this point, the Stars defeated the Minnesota Wild in six games, while the Kraken eliminated the defending champions, the Colorado Avalanche, in seven games.

This is Seattle’s first trip to the second round, and it’s the first for Dallas since losing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2020.

What are the keys to the series for the Stars and Kraken?

Both teams come into this series with some momentum. They each enjoyed strong regular seasons and have plenty of reasons to feel good after surviving round one. Now, what will it take to advance with a trip to the Western Conference Final on the line?


Everyone knows that Jake Oettinger is great in net for the Stars. Last postseason, despite losing in the first round, he was one of the most impactful players in the playoffs. He stepped up again this spring with a 2.01 goals against average (GAA) and a .929 save percentage against Minnesota.

Oettinger conceded only one goal in the final two games of the Stars’ first-round series to eliminate the Wild.

As for Seattle, goaltending wasn’t exactly a strength in the regular season as no Kraken netminder posted a save percentage better than .900. In the playoffs, however, Philipp Grubauer stole the show in round one with a 2.44 GAA and .926 save percentage.

I have no idea where that came from, but that’s the type of performance that can steal a series.

As these two get set to go head-to-head, their play will largely influence this series. A repeat performance from Grubauer is probably the Kraken’s best chance to pull off another upset, while playoff Oettinger could be the reason that doesn’t happen.


There is good news and bad news concerning injuries for these two teams. The good news for both is that they were not dealt many new injuries during the first round. The bad news is that the few injuries that were sustained are significant.

For the Stars, Joe Pavelski is dealing with a concussion after only playing in one game against Minnesota. The fact that he notched 77 points (third on the team) in the regular season makes his absence critical. He is a game-time decision for Game 1.

The Kraken, who do have more injuries in general than the Stars, lost Jared McCann later in their first-round matchup, and it’s hard to say if and when he’ll be available. McCann led Seattle in goals (40) and points (70), so they’ll have big shoes to fill in his absence.

Staying as healthy as possible in this series will be important, but so too will be overcoming the loss of those that were injured in round one.

First Goal

Is scoring the first goal ever not important? There has been no shortage of comebacks this playoff series, but getting off to a fast start will be one of the biggest keys in this series in particular.

The Stars scored first in four of their six first-round games, and they won every time that they struck first. The Kraken scored the first goal in all seven games against the Avalanche. That didn’t lead as directly to wins as it did for Dallas, but it still went a long way in helping them advance.

Seattle likes to have the lead, and Dallas wins when they get a lead. The first goals of games will break the ice against strong goaltending and correlate with wins. Don’t underestimate the importance of scoring first.

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Game 1 between the Stars and Kraken is slated for Tuesday, May 2 at 9:30 PM on ESPN. I’m anticipating another long series, but I’ll take the Dallas Stars to win, four games to three.