In their first ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Seattle Kraken will be taking on the Colorado Avalanche. It will be a huge task for this team to match up against the defending Cup champs, but the way these two teams are built sets the stage for an incredibly exciting series.
Things looked a bit hairy at times for the Avalanche. Their Stanley Cup defence bid was not going well through the first half of the season. They were, at times, even sitting outside of the playoffs. But they have found their groove in the latter half of the season and took charge of the Central Division to claim the title at the season’s end.
The Kraken finished with 60 points last season. In their second year, they jumped all the way up to attain their first 100-point season, ending with exactly 100, and their first playoff berth. The roster holes that caused them so much difficulty in 2021–22 have largely been addressed, allowing the team to succeed as they have.
Colorado and Seattle have two of the most exciting, offensive, and quick teams in the league. This series, regardless of the outcome, is a must-watch.
Season stats and head-to-head matchup
|TEAM/STAT||W||L||OTL||P||GF||xGF%||GA||CF%||PP%||PK%||Record vs. Opponent|
Expected goals for percentage (xGF%) and Corsi for % (CF%) stats are in all situations from moneypuck.com.
Colorado Avalanche season storyline
The Colorado Avalanche have not had an overly easy path to defending their Stanley Cup victory. Not only did they lose a fair amount of depth in free agency, with Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and Darcy Kuemper leaving, they have been dealing with injury issues to major parts of the lineup through the regular season.
Entering the new year, it almost seemed the Avalanche could miss the playoffs. But then, once Nathan MacKinnon returned to the lineup, things turned around rapidly.
The Avalanche have been one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season. In the first half, the offense was a struggle at times as Colorado had major trouble scoring. Immediately on Mackinnon’s return, that trouble ended.
Now, heading into the playoffs with a mostly healthy lineup, the Avalanche look as if they will be the team that the Western Conference will have to go through if they want to make the Stanley Cup Finals.
With a lineup as fast, high-powered, and skilled as the Avalanche possess, will anyone be able to put an end to the Cup defence bid? The way that Colorado is playing, it seems very unlikely.
Seattle Kraken season storyline
Year-over-year, the Seattle Kraken have had one of the most impressive turnarounds in recent memory. A bottom-five finish in their inaugural season but the first playoff berth in franchise history in the second. The team is oozing momentum right now as they can revel in the excitement around the team and organization.
What ailed the Kraken in year one has been addressed and solved for year two. Mostly. The two biggest issues the Kraken faced last season, scoring and goaltending, have been fixed just enough to turn the team’s fortunes around. But will it be enough to compete in the postseason?
Seattle has one of the deepest offenses in the entire league, rivaling that of the Boston Bruins. The Kraken lead the league with 18 20-point scorers. Every single lineup regular, with the exception of Carson Soucy (who had 16 points) hit 20 on the year. This level of depth is unmatched around the league and gives the Kraken a massive advantage from the bottom half of their roster.
However, despite the incredible depth the team possesses, they do not have a star offensive talent. And that is something that will hold them back going up against teams like the Edmonton Oilers or Colorado Avalanche. They may be able to grind away by having four lines capable of scoring, but will they be able to match up without a legitimate game changer?
And in regards to goaltending, this hole in the lineup is not necessarily fixed. But it is solved well enough to not be holding the team back as much. The Kraken are, for the most part, getting the saves they need when they need them, and that is what counts.
It is going to be an intimidating matchup for the Kraken, having to go up against the likes of MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar in their first ever playoff series. Seattle may not have the players on their roster to be able to shut these types of talents down. The speed with which they play and read the game is steps ahead, and is why the Avalanche were able to dominate their way to the Cup last season.
This immediately brings into question the quality of goaltending that Seattle will receive. Although their goalies have been better than in the season prior, that is not saying much. All of the goalies who played for the Kraken this season had negative numbers in goals saved above expected. It does not look promising for Seattle knowing they are going up against a team as offensively potent as the Avalanche.
But Seattle does have a physical defence made up of players who have size but not at the expense of too much mobility. Players like Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak, for starters, might be able to use their physical play to clog up lanes and grind down the Avalanche’s superstars. The tricky part is finding a way to counter the speed.
The area where the Kraken might find success is in the lineup depth. Colorado lost a lot of theirs last offseason, and it showed early in the regular season as big-name players were out due to injury and the team couldn’t score. But Seattle will still have to find a way around the defence of the Avalanche, which is possibly the best and deepest in the league.
Colorado is back to being a top-heavy team. Which is fine, they have found success through the season with this roster, but it does leave them vulnerable. If the bottom half of the lineup is not producing, they become a potential liability where the only expectation on them is to not concede goals. And if the top half of the roster gets stifled or is not able to score for a game or two, will anyone else be able to pick up the slack?
The rosters here just don’t quite match up well for Seattle. They do have incredible scoring depth that even surpasses what the Avalanche have, but the lack of high-end talent and concerns in net make it difficult to see them have any sustained success in the postseason. Colorado’s starpower and elite talent will be able to dominate in this matchup.
4–1 Colorado Avalanche