BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Seattle Kraken Playoff Primer: Schedule, matchup, key players to watch

Apr 15, 2023, 9:52 AM

Seattle Kraken...

Vince Dunn of the Seattle Kraken attempts a shot against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 21, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

For the first time in franchise history, the Seattle Kraken are playoff bound.

The Kraken earned the No. 1 Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and will begin their Stanley Cup Playoff journey next week against the reigning champs, the Colorado Avalanche, who won the Central Division this season.

Colorado won eight of its last 10 games, and the Avalanche finished with the second-best point percentage in the conference and sixth-best in the NHL.

With the playoff action starting in just a few days, let’s dive into the schedule and matchup.

Kraken playoff schedule

As with many playoff series across different sports, this opening round is a best-of-seven, meaning a team needs four wins to advance to the next round. And with the Avalanche the higher seed, they will have home-ice advantage for four games if the series requires the maximum of seven.

Here’s the full schedule:

Game 1: Tuesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. Pacific in Colorado – Watch on Root Sports NW and ESPN

Game 2: Thursday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific in Colorado – Watch on Root Sports NW and ESPN

Game 3: Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. Pacific in Seattle – Watch on Root Sports NW and TBS

Game 4: Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Pacific in Seattle – Watch on Root Sports NW and TBS

Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, April 26 in Colorado – time and broadcast schedule TBD

Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, April 28 in Seattle – time and broadcast schedule TBD

Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, April 30 in Colorado – time and broadcast schedule TBD

The matchup

The Kraken and Avalanche enter this postseason in very different ways as it’s the first playoff appearance in Seattle’s two-year history while Colorado won its third Stanley Cup championship last season.

The two teams faced of three times this year, and Seattle had the edge in the matchup, winning two of those games and falling in a shootout in the other.

The games have all been close, with the the Kraken winning in Colorado 3-2 in their sixth game of the year, falling 2-1 in a shootout on Jan. 21 in Seattle and winning 3-2 in overtime on March 5 in Colorado. All in all, Seattle has 7 goals to Colorado’s 6 in the three games.

The Kraken emerged as one of the league’s best scoring teams, ranking sixth in goals and were middle of the pack (15th) in goals against. All in all, Seattle was 10th in the NHL in goal differential at +33.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, were a bit more balanced, finishing ninth in goals scored and goals against. Colorado was +54 in goal differential, good for seventh in the league.

Another interesting element of this matchup is neither team was particularly great at home this year, but both were excellent on the road.

The Avalanche had the 17th-best home record in the NHL at 22-13-6 while the Kraken were 21st at 20-17-4.

On the road, however, Colorado was fourth-best in hockey, going 29-11-1. Seattle finished with the NHL’s sixth-best road record at 26-11-4.

Players to watch: Colorado Avalanche

Let’s take a closer look at a few players on each team to keep a close eye on during this matchup.

With Colorado, the Avalanche have a fairly star-studded roster.

Offensively, center Nathan McKinnon finished with 111 points, fifth-most in the NHL and with the ninth-most goals in the league. He also had a +29 plus/minus rating. The Kraken held McKinnon in check in their three matchups, though, as he had just one goal and no assists.

Defensively, we’ll look at Colorado’s top defense pairing in Cale Makar and Devin Toews.

Makar is a young superstar who was the NHL’s top defenseman last season. He’s been injured, but is expected back for the start of the playoffs.

Toews, meanwhile, finished with the sixth-best plus/minus in hockey at +39 and tallied 50 points this year.

That duo makes up arguably the league’s top defensemen pairing, and will surely be looking to make life tough for the Kraken.

And last but not least, goalie Alexandar Georgiev had the sixth-best save percentage in hockey at .918 in 62 games, and he allowed just 2.53 goals per game.

Players to watch: Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken have a deep roster that’s carried them to this playoff appearance, but let’s just look at three guys here.

First, let’s start in goal with Phillip Grubauer.

Grubauer isn’t just an interesting player to watch as he’s a former Avalanche player, but he’s played very well against his former team this year.

In three games (two starts), Grubauer allowed 1.7 goals per game and has a .928 save percentage against Colorado, allowing five goals on 69 shot attempts.

Playoff hockey is often about a hot goalie, so Seattle could have a chance to get rolling early if Grubauer gets going against his old team.

Next up, Jared McCann.

The 26-year-old winger had a career year for the Kraken, tallying 40 goals and 30 assists on the team’s top line with Matty Beniers and Jordan Eberle.

The Avalanche are a well-balanced team with elite defensemen while McCann was a top-15 scorer this year. It will be a fun matchup, for sure.

And lastly, defenseman Vince Dunn.

Like McCann, Dunn had a career year for Seattle with 14 goals and 50 assists, finishing 10th in the NHL in defenseman scoring.

Dunn also finished with a +28 plus/minus, showing he’s one of the top two-way defenseman in the league.

Rookie Matty Beniers grows into leader for playoff-bound Seattle Kraken

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