Olczyk: What Seattle Kraken do well that is huge in playoff hockey

Apr 7, 2023, 12:37 PM | Updated: 1:05 pm

Seattle Kraken...

Vince Dunn celebrates his goal with Adam Larsson on April 06, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

In their second year of existence, the Seattle Kraken are playoff bound.

With Seattle’s 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, the Kraken have punched their ticked to the Stanley Cup Playoffs a year after finishing with the third-worst record in the NHL.

Seattle Kraken clinch first playoff berth, beat Coyotes 4-2

While there’s obviously a ton of excitement about the Kraken’s achievement, team broadcaster Eddie Olczyk told Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Thursday that playoff hockey is a “different animal.”

A big part of playoff hockey is goaltending. And while Phillip Grubauer and Martin Jones have done enough for the Kraken to get to the postseason, neither have a save percentage over .900 this season.

“If you get it, that being goaltending, you’ve got a shot to win,” Olczyk said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”

Olcyzk said that lower-seeded teams often are able to pull off upsets more in hockey than other sports largely because of goaltending. But outside of that, there’s an area of the Kraken’s game that could bode well in a postseason run, Olczyk said.

“To me, playoff hockey becomes about managing momentum swings, and it’s how you manage the middle of the ice. And it’s the one strength of this team, the Kraken, is that they really really manage the game well,” he said. “When they are playing well, they manage the middle of the ice… When they really manage that whether they have the puck or not, they are in games, and I think that playoff hockey is like that.”

There will be times where you’re “up against it” and don’t have momentum on your side, Olcyzk said, and getting that momentum back is crucial.

“The first thing is everybody says, ‘Well, you’ve got to get the momentum back on your side.’ Well hold on a second. First off, you’ve got to stop the momentum. You’ve got to stop that tidal wave,” he said. “Now you’ve stopped it, whether it’s a big save or (the opponent) takes a penalty or whatever it is. Then when you get it back on your side, what do you do with it … And when you do have it, it’s how do you cash in?”

It all comes back to managing the middle of the ice, which Olczyk thinks is a big part of the Kraken’s game.

“For me, hockey 101 is how they play with and without the puck in the middle of the ice. And if they can, (they) play to their strength – because I think it’s one of their strengths,” he said. “Because when they play well, they’re really good at it. And when when they struggle, they try to force things and it’s a struggle for them. So that’s playoff hockey, and you’re going to have to manage those momentum swings very, very often because you just never know when it’s gonna happen. You just never know when the game or the series is going to change, and what are you going to do with (momentum) when you have it?”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Olczyk in the podcast below.

Seattle Kraken in Playoffs: Olczyk breaks down historic turnaround

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Olczyk: What Seattle Kraken do well that is huge in playoff hockey