In a few years from now, if you look up the definition of “disappointment” in the dictionary, you’ll the greeted with two pictures: One from the blowout in Game 3, where the Seattle Kraken obliterated the Stars 7-2, and the second picture being from the game tonight. It seemed like the Kraken had the series on lock after Sunday night, having seven goals from seven different goal scorers, proving yet again that depth is key to a great game. However, the Seattle Kraken were simply unable to carry their momentum from their previous contest into Game 4 tonight, losing 6-3, and seeing Philipp Grubauer replaced by Martin Jones for the first time this playoff run, after putting up a .773 SV% in the first two periods with 5 goals against.
The events of this game were nearly identical to Game 3. The first period nearly went scoreless until Jamie Benn opened up the scoring for the Dallas Stars with just under three minutes left to play in the period. The period opened up like it had the last two games: back and forth play, the faceoffs being dominated by the Dallas stars, as they have been all series. My GOD have the Kraken been dominated on the faceoffs. In Game 1 the Stars were better in faceoffs, beating the Kraken 39 to 28. Game 2, it was the same story: 20 to 44. Game 3, 38 to 29, and tonight’s game, 24 to 28. This wasn’t the only aspect of the game that the Stars dominated, as they also continued to outshoot the Kraken, 29 to 19. At first, I figured it was a matter of the Kraken forcing the Stars to get rid of the puck, using strong defensive zone pressure, like what happened in game 3. This game, however, the Stars simply played better than the Kraken. They maneuvered better, they protected the puck better, they had better zone coverage (although it seemed they spend less time in the o-zone, but this was simply due to the fact that they scored so often while they were there), and Grubauer wasn’t getting the support he had gotten in the previous game. All and all, the Stars were simply more hungry for the win. Coming off of a 7-2 win in the previous game, overconfidence and a lack to prove themselves to a team they had walloped ultimately had been the downfall for the Kraken team.
At the end of the first, with a little under 3 minutes to play, Jamie Benn opened the scoring in the match for the Dallas Stars, after slinging the puck on net from the top of one of the faceoff dots. This would be only the beginning of an avalanche of goals scored by the Stars, and the beginning of the portion of the game where Seattle would be in for a long struggle. The Kraken did respond with some solid effort, but the Stars were able to keep them on the run until the buzzer. At the start of the second, both teams took the ice looking a bit disorganized. They both knew that this second period would set the tone for the rest of the game, and it only came down to a matter of who could score the next goal. The Dallas hockey club soon found their footing, as defenseman Thomas Harley and Max Domi made a beautiful zone-entry play, which immediately led to the Stars’ second goal of the game.
A bit of controversy would arise in this game, 9:25 from the start of the second period, when Max Domi netted his first goal, and the Stars’ third during this competition. While creeping in on Grubauer’s right side from the faceoff dot (a common scoring position for the Dallas skaters), Jamie Benn cam across the Kraken goaltender’s crease, and appeared to nudge him out of position. While some argue that Grubauer may have embellished it, there were two moments in the video where Benn had potentially made contact. I argue that Grubauer wasn’t prepared for the initial contact, and that’s what had him slide so far out of his crease to begin with– He wasn’t prepared to me moved. After initial contact, the Stars skater then attempted to jump OVER Grubauer, knocking his glove and preventing the save against Max Domi.
The issue with goaltender interference, is the league has very loose and considerably ambiguous rules for what goalie interference is. According to the NHL rulebook, goaltending interference is as follows:
“69.3: Contact Inside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates
contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the
goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be
If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his
goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the
goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s
ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be
If, after any contact by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish
position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately
vacate his current position in the goal crease (i.e. give ground to the
goalkeeper), and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. In all
such cases, whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will
receive a minor penalty for goalkeeper interference.
If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the
goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his
ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be
That’s just a small portion of the rule, and the entirety of the NHL rulebook can be found here, where I found this information. Even if the first point of contact was initiated by Grubauer, Jamie Benn makes touches him not once, but TWICE, and I believe this call, like many others regarding this rule, is wrong, and the NHL needs to create an effort to officially establish what is, or isn’t goaltender interference. However, even if the call were overturned, it’s not like it would have mattered. Max Domi and Joe Pavelski would net two more, before Jaden Schwartz finally stopped the bleeding with 8:14 left in the period.
It’s no surprise that going into the third, the Kraken would see a new goaltender this postseason– Martin Jones. The good thing about having a team with solid depth, is that theme also extends into the Kraken’s goaltending tandem. During this season, Martin Jones started in 42 games, putting up a respectable .887 SV%. He isn’t a bad option when your started is struggling like Grubauer was. After putting Jones in net, we saw a new energy come out of the Kraken. although I still wasn’t hopeful. While Martin Jones saved every shot that came his way, I can’t really say he made much of a difference in the game. With 16:40 left in the game, the goaltender was pulled in favor of an extra attacker for Seattle. While they did score almost immediately, why replace Grubauer, just to have your team play with an empty net? To me, this decision wasn’t smart at all, and was honestly an insult to Philipp, who had been practically carrying the Seattle Kraken during their playoff tenure up until this point. With 4 minutes left, the Kraken would make the game 3-5 before Dallas hammered the final nail in the coffin with an empty net goal.
Sheesh. What happened tonight? This game felt like if Game 3 was reversed, then had a baby with the events of Game 2. Is it possible that the Kraken are losing their steam? No. Not by a long shot, as evident by the burst of energy in the third. The issues come down to not performing in areas of the game where there’s simply no excuse: faceoff wins, shots on goal, and net defense. Without the ability to win faceoffs, the Seattle Kraken are forcing themselves to play a defensively focused game. They have to work around what the Stars do with the puck after the draw, and it’s letting Dallas mold the actions of their opponents like putty. Sure, the putty may be a bit dried out, and it doesn’t always do what the Stars want, however the more faceoffs they win, the more water they add to their putty, and that’s detrimental to the Kraken’s performance. The Dallas club has also continued the trend of outshooting the Kraken, scoring through volume rather than accuracy, the latter being something that the Kraken is quite good at. And that’s another one of their issues. Outside of the zone, and during zone entries, the Kraken are very physical and aggressive, but they wait too long for an open lane to shoot the puck. I can think of at least 6 moments during that game when the Kraken had a fantastic opportunity to get the puck off of their stick and towards Ottinger, but for whatever the reason, they didn’t. This caused far too many turnovers and interceptions than the Kraken could afford to have, and they ultimately paid the price for it after the Stars’ empty netter. As far as the goaltending goes, I love Philipp Grubauer, and I always will. He’s a fantastic goalie with a large skillset, and he can take on just about any situation that comes his way. The Kraken know this, and so they become over-reliant on him to make stops that the Seattle skaters should have made themselves. They’ve become sloppy in the D-zone, and honestly, I think it’s tired Grubauer out. For Game 5, I would prefer to see Martin Jones start. His only ice time was during the third period, and he was only out there for a total of 18 minutes, with his previously played game being a month before. Grubauer needs to rest, because I’m sure his back is killing him. Jones however, he’s got a full tank of gas, and I’d love to see what kind of damage he could do for Seattle.
We rest up for a day, then we head to Game 5 in American Airlines Center, Dallas. We now face a best of three, with the series tied at two apiece.