If you’re a Colorado Avalanche and you wanted to see a completely new matchup in the playoffs, you got your wish on Friday night.
With their win over the Nashville Predators on the final day of the regular season, the Avalanche secured first place in the Central Division. The perk of getting first place in the division means you get to face a wild card team. That team? The Seattle Kraken.
In just their second season as an NHL franchise, the Kraken really took off, hitting the 100-point mark and securing 46 wins. One thing they can do is score goals, as they finished third in the NHL with 289 goals. It’s not just one player you have to worry about either.
Jared McCann led the way with 40 goals on the year, the first time he’s hit that number in his career. Depth, however, is what carried them to the playoffs. Six different players topped the 20 goal mark for the Kraken, and 10 players scored 14 goals or more this year. That forward depth is hurt a little bit, as former Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky will miss the start of the series due to injury.
But what really stands out about the Kraken is their ability to limit chances against. At 5-on-5, only three other teams allowed fewer shots on goal than the Kraken. Their shot generation is middle of the road, but their shot suppression is top notch. It’s impressive when you consider they don’t have a top-flight defenseman on their roster.
That shot suppression helps hide their biggest weakness: goaltending. Old friend Philipp Grubauer has not lived up to his contract in Seattle, as he posted another year of sub-par numbers, finishing with a .895 save percentage. Martin Jones wasn’t really any better, finishing with a .887 save percentage. The fact they were able to make the playoffs with two goaltenders putting up these types of numbers speaks to the way the team plays.
The Kraken also happened to have the Avalanche’s number this year, although they did get to catch the Avalanche twice on the second half of a back-to-back. In the end, Seattle won two of the three matchup. They were all close games, though, as none of them were decided by more than a goal. The lone win for the Avalanche came back in January, when they beat Seattle in a shootout.
Stay tuned to CHN over the next few days for a full preview. We will dig into the series between the two teams even more, examining how the teams match up at forward, defense, and in net. In addition, we’ll take a look at the x-factors for both teams and make a final prediction.
Get ready, Avalanche fans. It’s playoff time. Below is the schedule for round one.