Inside Kraken Playoff Run: TNT’s Albert on topping Avs, Stars series preview

May 1, 2023, 3:43 PM

Seattle Kraken playoffs...

The Seattle Kraken celebrate their 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on April 30, 2023. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken not only made the Stanley Cup playoffs in their second season, but they topped the Colorado Avalanche in seven games, spoiling the Avs’ title defense in the opening round.

Brock & Salk: Kraken and their depth outplayed defending champs

NHL on TNT’s Kenny Albert was on the call for the Kraken’s 2-1 Game 7 win Sunday in Denver, and he joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy Monday afternoon to discuss what he saw from in the series against the Avalanche and share some insight into Seattle’s next opponent, the Dallas Stars.

“I was impressed last night – and that was the only game that I was actually at in person,” Albert said. “I worked games in three other series earlier in the first round, but I did watch a lot of the Kraken-Avs series on television. I thought the style that they play, they did give up a lot of shots in the first period but they really buttoned things down as the game moved along.”

The Kraken are known for their depth across the lineup, but a few players Sunday stood out to Albert.

“I was impressed with with their group of defenseman – Jamie Oleksiak had a real strong game – but the No. 1 star in my mind was (goaltender Philipp) Grubauer, obviously,” Albert said. “And you have to put (winger Oliver) Bjorkstrand at 1-A because he scored both goals and had numerous other chances. But what a story, Philipp Grubauer going up against one of his former teams … His only prior Game 7 start was with Colorado against San Jose back in 2019. I think without Grubauer, the Kraken don’t win that game. Now Bjorkstrand, again, scored both goals and he was a major factor, but I was so impressed with the goaltending and the overall team structure.”

Prior to the game, Albert went into both locker rooms and spoke to the two head coaches. He said that each team was very loose ahead of the do-or-die showdown, and he gives a lot of credit to Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol and his staff for the work they’ve done to get to this point.

“I was very impressed with Dave Hakstol and his staff in the preparation in getting ready for this series, and in particular for Game 7,” he said. “And I thought all four lines played well for the Kraken. You look at the fourth line, they gave them some big minutes with (Ryan) Donato and (Daniel) Sprong and (Brandon) Tanev over on the other side. I think they were a major factor, as well. Tanev was in the play when the first goal was scored and it initially looked like he may have knocked it in and they changed it to Bjorkstrand. But I think up and down the lineup, the Kraken were ready to go.”

The Kraken scored first in every single game of the seven-game series, which has happened just once before in a Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup.

“And they did it against a team in Colorado that had scored first more than any other team in the league in the regular season,” Albert said. “That was really impressive the way the Kraken were able to start games by taking the lead in all seven against the defending champs.”

Seattle Kraken opponent preview: Dallas Stars

The Seattle Kraken’s reward for taking down the Avalanche? A best-of-seven date with the Dallas Stars, who finished the season just one point behind the Avs for the Central Division title.

The Kraken and Stars faced off three times this season, with Dallas winning two of the three – one in overtime – and Seattle winning the other game in overtime.

While Seattle topped Colorado in seven games, Dallas beat the Minnesota Wild in six games to advance to the second round.

So what should Kraken fans know about the Stars?

Albert called Dallas “just a solid team” with a combination of veterans and younger players. He also thinks the Stars have a great head coach in Pete DeBoer.

“He has taken two franchises to the Stanley Cup final in his first year with both New Jersey and San Jose, and this is his first year with Dallas … He’s had that first-year magic before with with two different franchises,” Albert said.

What about the players?

“Well, first of all, they have a terrific goaltender in Jake Oettinger,” Albert said. “He’s been in the league now for 3 1/2 years and he’s probably in the top five, I would say, in the entire NHL.”

And the skaters?

“When you look at them up front, (winger) Roope Hintze had a terrific season, (winger) Jason Robertson was one of the top scorers in the NHL with over 100 points. We’ll see about the health status of (center) Joe Pavelski – who was injured in Game 1 – whether or not he’s good to go for for game one of this series,” Albert said. “… They have the veterans, (winger) Jamie Benn and (center) Tyler Seguin, who have a lot of playoff experience … And then on defense, they have a really talented young defenseman in Miro Heiskanen, they have a veteran in Ryan Suter who has been around the league … Just a strong solid core.”

“It’s a real solid team,” Albert added. “I worked Game 5 of their series against Minnesota and they wound up winning in six, and I’m sure the the Kraken and Stars are excited to get things started tomorrow. It should be a good series. Excellent goaltending on both sides.”

Listen to the full conversation with Albert at this link or in the player below.

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Inside Kraken Playoff Run: TNT’s Albert on topping Avs, Stars series preview