Discover more from Shap Shots
Breaking Down Stars-Kraken Game 3
Miro Heiskanen's injury was too much for Dallas to overcome.
Before this series started I wrote a piece for D Magazine about the importance of Miro Heiskanen.
Heiskanen is the Stars most important player. Full stop.
In the second period the Stars proved that.
Heiskanen left the game after taking a puck to the face 2:10 into the middle stanza, part of a sequence that led to a wonky first goal for Jordan Eberle.
The goal hurt — all goals against do — but the injury was the loss Dallas couldn’t handle.
Without Heiskanen the Stars look lost defensively. They struggled to to move the puck out of their zone, only Thomas Harley showed any confidence with the puck on his stick, and the Stars work preventing Seattle entries was noticeable.
Shap Shots is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
In the first period, before the Heiskanen injury, Seattle only had 10 controlled entries (nine carries, one pass-in) compared to 24 dump-ins. In the second period, with Heiskanen out, Seattle had 17 clean entries (16 carries, one pass in) to just 11 dump-and-chase entries.
The Stars have grown accustomed to Heiskanen playing close to 27 minutes a night in non-overtime games (with overtime he’s averaging 29:45). He makes the game easier for everyone else, and relieves pressure on the rest of the defensemen both schematically and emotionally — Heiskanen is a fact of life, he will save the day.
It’s easy to say that the Stars need someone else to step up in this moment. But they don’t have a defenseman that can step up to fill Heiskanen’s role. The Stars know it, the Kraken know it, and that’s how the second period played out.
Heiskanen didn’t return. The Stars announced it was an “upper-body” injury in the third period, while the TBS broadcast had reported earlier he was just “getting stitched up” and would be back.
After the game Pete DeBoer said, “No, don't have anything yet. Obviously didn't come back. Pretty bad cut. We'll know more tomorrow."
We all saw the puck hit him in the head, we saw the blood. Hopefully it was just Dallas being precautionary in a blowout, because Heiskanen has a concussion history.
Heiskanen missed NHL training camp before the 2017-18 season dealing with a concussion, that combined with Ken Hitchcock’s unwillingness to even consider playing a teenager delayed the start of his NHL career until the 2018-19 campaign.
If Heiskanen is cleared for Game 4, it’s still very much a series. It’s only a 2-1 Seattle lead.
But if Heiskanen isn’t available for Game 4, the Stars are in big trouble.
The Stars could handle Joe Pavelski’s absence, they’ve handled Jason Robertson’s rough playoffs. Dallas winning this series without Heiskanen feels insurmountable.
Speaking of zone entries, perfect time to drop some data here.
In total, the Stars had 24 carry-ins, 47 dump-ins, and 4 pass-ins.
Seattle had 33 carry-ins, 48 dump-ins, and 2 pass-ins.
These numbers are at 5-on-5, which accounts for less actions in the third period when things turned into an organized skirmish.
We should talk about Jake Oettinger
Dallas missed Heiskanen in the second period, but Jake Oettinger didn’t do himself any favors.
The goalie allowed five goals on eight shots in the middle stanza, and it wasn’t pretty.
The final goal by Eeli Tolvanen with less than a minute remaining in the second period was particularly egregious when it came to Oettinger’s rebound control.
Oettinger was replace at the start of the third period by Scott Wedgewood, who quickly let up a goal himself to Yanni Gourde while Dallas was on the power play.
Oettinger and Dallas, aside from the Heiskanen injury, are following a similar script to Round 1 agains the Minnesota Wild.
Dallas lost Game 1 of that series in overtime, responded well in Game 2, and and then got beaten pretty easily in Game 3.
In Round 1, Oettinger fixed his game and was dominant for the rest of the series after Game 3. From a Stars perspective, that’s become a must-have development going forward — especially with any questions about Heiskanen’s health.