3 Keys: What the Kraken need to do in playoff matchup vs Avs

Apr 18, 2023, 11:48 AM

Seattle Kraken Jordan Eberle...

Jordan Eberle of the Seattle Kraken reacts after a chance vs. Colorado on Jan. 21, 2023. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The moment Pacific Northwest hockey fans have been waiting a lifetime for is here. The Seattle Kraken make their first foray into postseason hockey Tuesday night when they open their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Colorado Avalanche.

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

The Kraken, who made a remarkable turnaround from their 2021-22 expansion campaign to reach the playoffs in just their second year of NHL play, are clear underdogs against the Avalanche, who won the Central Division and are the defending Stanley Cup champions.

On Tuesday morning, Mike Salk shared his three keys for the Kraken against Colorado during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. But first, he offered his general thoughts on the magnitude of the series.

“Man, I am excited. Another milestone tonight in the short history of the Kraken franchise – they will play their first NHL playoff game,” Salk said. “The Avs, their opponent, are red hot. They’re about to get healthy, as well. Many of their stars have been out for much of the year and are all about to return here for the playoffs, but no one ever said it was going to be easy. … I can’t wait. Playoff hockey is unique, it is special, and the Kraken get an opportunity to experience it for the first time tonight.”

From Denver Sports: Avs need Cale Makar’s bad injury luck to stop

Here’s a look at Salk’s keys.

Seattle Kraken playoff keys

1. Get goalie Philipp Grubauer hot against his old team.

“He’s gonna get the start against Colorado. I don’t know that I would have a lot of patience. If he doesn’t play well, I’m going with Martin Jones in Game 2 or 3. I want to see Philipp Grubauer earn some of the big salary that he received to come to Seattle here, and to do so against your old team in a building you’re very familiar with, it’s all set up for him perfectly.”

2. Limit the mistakes.

“You just have to in playoffs. You cannot give the other team chances for free.”

3. Survive Colorado’s top line.

“Colorado is a really good team up and down its lineup, but that top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, you’ve got to find a way to limit their effectiveness. One thing I’ll be watching (Tuesday night) is to see which line (Seattle Kraken coach Dave) Hakstol wants to line up against them. Does he go with that (Alex) Wennberg line? Does he create a line to try to shut them down and do something you haven’t done all year? Kind of curious to see how he handles that. Or, finally, just keep rolling your lines. Find a way to play four. Use your depth to your advantage. Find a way to get Daniel Sprong in the right situation. Find a way to get your guys on the ice and stay fresh longer, and hopefully it can pay dividends for you because that’s really the one advantage that you’ve had against other teams this year.”

Hear Salk’s full breakdown in Need To Know, the second segment in the podcast below.

More on the Kraken in the playoffs

Preview: Kraken begin first playoffs vs defending champion Avs
Rookie Matty Beniers grows into leader for playoff-bound Kraken
Kraken By The Numbers: Stats that explain why Seattle is playoff bound
Olczyk: What Seattle Kraken do well that is huge in playoff hockey
Seattle Kraken in Playoffs: Olczyk breaks down historic turnaround

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3 Keys: What the Kraken need to do in playoff matchup vs Avs