NHL analyst: How Kraken can get advantage back in series vs Stars

May 11, 2023, 7:06 AM | Updated: 9:50 pm

Seattle Kraken Yanni Gourde...

Joel Hanley of the Stars and Yanni Gourde of the Kraken chase the puck in Game 4. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken were flying high after their Game 3 win in their second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Dallas Stars, a 7-2 blowout Sunday at Climate Pledge Arena.

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It’s quite the opposite now after the Stars evened the series 2-2 with a blowout victory of their own, 6-3 in Game 4 on Tuesday.

That’s playoff hockey for you.

Now the series shifts back to Dallas for a pivotal Game 5 on Thursday night, and the Kraken need to win to give themselves a chance to clinch a trip to the conference finals at home in Game 6 Saturday rather than letting the Stars have the ability to eliminate Seattle on its home ice.

Eddie Olczyk, a longtime NHL analyst who calls Kraken games for ROOT Sports as well as national NHL on TNT broadcasts, joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Wednesday to share his thoughts on where the Kraken-Stars series stands. Here are a couple things that jumped out from the conversation.

Why can the Seattle Kraken get back ahead?

Olczyk remarked that even though the two most recent games have been lopsided scores, the fact that the Kraken and Stars have split the series thus far makes a lot of sense.

“It’s been a dead-even series when you look at the play in the first four games,” he said, “and the numbers would tell you (that).”

He isn’t too worried about Dallas having the momentum after using a four-goal second period to run away in Game 4.

“Dallas just kind of found their game (in Game 4),” he said. “… When the Kraken are playing their game, they’re really managing the middle of the ice. They’re not allowing I don’t want to say clean looks off the rush, but just teams having a little bit too much room to maneuver. And I thought (Tuesday) night was just one of those games where look, sometimes you’ve got to tip your hockey helmet to the other side and just say, ‘Hey, they made adjustments, they found their way to get to their game.’ The first couple of goals were off the rush and that’s something that I’m sure (Kraken coach Dave) Hakstol and his staff (know) they’re gonna have to clean up.”

Something that lands in the Kraken’s favor is they’ve shown no problem playing intense games on the road, including in their seven-game series win over the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.

“Look, they won three or four in Colorado in series one and they’ve won one of two on the road so far in Dallas,” Olczyk said. “To me, I think they’re very comfortable on the road and that’s what they’ve got to get back to. They’ve got to get back to that road mentality.”

Playoff experience

Even though this is the first postseason appearance in Seattle Kraken history, the roster is full of players with playoff experience, including some who have won the Stanley Cup before like Yanni Gourde (twice with Tampa Bay), Jaden Schwartz and Vince Dunn (both with St. Louis).

“It is so important to have those type of players on your roster because it is a range of emotion. It is. I mean, the pendulum swings,” Olczyk said.

At this point, too, the Kraken players who are experiencing the playoffs for the first time are up to speed on how different it is from the regular season.

“I think when you do talk to some of the young guys on this team that had never played in the playoffs before, they’re gonna tell you it’s a way different animal. It’s just a different type of game,” Olczyk said. “I think that the understanding is look, it takes four (wins). Last series they had a chance to wrap it up in six, they weren’t able to do that, and really, not a lot of people gave them any chance to go into Colorado and win a Game 7 and they were able to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions … I think that they can take from that and learn through these games, the first four games, and now knowing that it’s a best-of-three and they know they’re coming back for Game 6 at Climate Pledge Arena regardless.”

When it comes down to it, though, it’s the veterans who have been here before that need to lead the charge.

“I think that they have learned a lot,” Olczyk said of the younger Kraken players, “but I think they really lean on the guys that have been there and have done that, and I think that’s a really important part of having success, the ultimate success, come the Stanley Cup playoffs.”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Olczyk in the podcast below.

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