Coming to you from Climate Pledge Arena, as I got here pretty early ahead of game three between the Colorado Avalanche and the Seattle Kraken.
Took the early flight to Seattle and I have some time to kill, so figured I’d sit down and write out some my thoughts on what I’ve seen so far through two games.
The amount of people I had telling me that the Avalanche need to scratch Sam Girard for the playoffs was out of control. Coming off a career best season in points, I figured people had seen he was playing really well, but I guess not.
Through two games, I think he’s been their most consistent defenseman. And I’m not sure it’s close. He’s been remarkably steady, and he’s been the one defenseman who has avoided the “big” mistake. I’ve liked Byram too, but he’s been a little aggressive on pinches.
The concern everyone has with him is size, but he’s been willing to give it back to the Kraken as much as he’s taken it. In game two, he took a big hit along the boards from Jared McCann. A few seconds later, the puck came right back to McCann and Girard gave it right back to him. The crowd loved that. Defense should be the one big advantage the Avalanche have over Seattle, but so far, Girard has been the only one that’s been consistent. Bednar pointed out how well Girard and Toews played together down the stretch, and had the analytics to back it up. I don’t expect pairings to change tonight.
As soon as I entered the arena today, one of the workers expressed his concern for how tonight will go for Seattle. The reason? They haven’t been a very good home team. Of all the teams in the playoffs, Seattle had the least amount of wins at home. On the flip side, Colorado led the West in road wins. They’re very comfortable playing on the road, and we’ll have to see how that plays out in games three and four.
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Through two games, Grubauer has been great for Seattle. That was not really the case in the regular season. If you look at his numbers, he was very hot and cold. There was nothing consistent about his game-to-game performance. He’d go through three game stretches of stopping most of everything, and then have three game stretches where he’s giving up 4-5 goals a night. Can he stay consistent through an entire series? I guess we’ll find out.
The game-winning goal on Thursday night was off a big rebound, and those have been available for Colorado. They just haven’t necessarily been able to get to those rebounds. The Kraken deserve credit for that. If they can get to the areas around the net, there are extra chances to be had.
Morning skate will start here in a little over an hour. I’ll be back with more after that.