Charting The Course to Round 2

Coming up tonight in game 6 of their opening series, the Seattle Kraken are in a unique position as a new franchise team – the newest since the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft – to make waves in the NHL as the youngest team to defeat the defending cup champions in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Just like their slightly older brother, the Vegas Golden Knights, who faced the L.A. Kings during their first championship run, The Kraken were thought to have been an easy sweep for the Avalanche by many. According to, at the beginning of the playoffs, the Seattle Kraken faced the lowest odds for advancing to the second round out of any other playoff team, with a 33.1% chance. The Avalanche on the other hand started off with a 66.9% (nice) chance of defeating the Kraken and advancing to round 2, with a 9.3% chance to completely sweep their opponents. The scenes displayed throughout round 1, however, proves that the Puget Sound Papis will not give up that easily.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or just flat out don’t care (and if you don’t, why are you reading this? Hm?), the Seattle Kraken have turned heads since the very start of this series, with their opening goal in Ball Arena, as well as a solid finish with a win in game 1, and their opening goals in every game since. Despite being taken from behind in games 2 and 3, It’s undeniable that this Seattle team is on fire– and trying to get rid of them won’t be so easy. A series victory for the Kraken, however, may prove just as difficult. Let’s go over what the Seattle Kraken do well, and what areas of play that they need to clean up in order to avoid Colorado turning those game comebacks into series comebacks.


The Seattle Kraken roster is full of talent both on the main roster, and within the AHL. While the Kraken record for the regular season is far from perfect, it still bolstered impressive results for the franchise’s second season, coming in at 46-28-8, just 5 wins short of the Golden Knights historical inaugural record of 51-24-7. Seattle’s stellar performance this season can be partially credited to their top-three goal scorers, Jared McCann, Vince Dunn, and Matty Beniers. Unfortunately this offseason, Kraken goals leader Jared McCann (40 goals, 30 assists) was taken out of play in game 4 after a late hit from Avalanche defenseman, Cale Makar, who was in turn suspended for game 5. While Jared McCann’s injury is incredibly unfortunate, it’s allowed the Kraken and their market to see what kind of prospect talent the team holds for the future, with the call up of the AHL rookie of the year, Tye Kartye. Before coming up to play with the Kraken, Kartye finished out the AHL regular season with 28 goals and 29 assists in 72 games played. In his debut NHL game, not only did Tye net his first NHL goal, he laid three great hits in the Avalanche defensive zone to help his team maintain possession of the puck in key moments of the game. Instantly, you could tell that Tye was right at home on NHL ice, and that he fit in perfectly among the veteran players of Seattle.

With the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires being eliminated from the J. Ross Robertson Cup playoffs earlier this month, it brings forth the opportunity to bring up first round draft pick, Shane Wright. Before he was drafted fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken, he spent his season with the Kingston Frontenacs, where he put up 32 goals and 62 assists. Shane Wright made his NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks in October of 2022, and a few months later, he scored his first big boy goal against the Montréal Canadiens, who were projected to pick him first overall— but chose Juraj Slafkovsky instead. Unfortunately, Shane Wright hasn’t scored an NHL goal since, and has been playing in the minors since the 2023 U20 World Juniors for conditioning. However, since going back to the minors, he’s put away 23 goals, and 27 assists for four different teams. Although he won’t be called up for tonight’s game, there’s a real possibility for his appearance later on in the playoffs, or a possible game 7 if the Avalanche manage to force it. Along with Tye Kartye, Wright serves as a reminder of the talent the Kraken hold in their back pocket.

The Seattle Kraken’s strengths offensively speaking, come from a strong scoring core. Looking at the projected lines for tonight, the distribution of 20+ goal scorers is fairly consistent, with at least one on each line. In the lines where goal scoring is limited, that factor is made up in assists. For example, tonight’s projected forwards for line three have Eeli Tolvanen, who has 16 goals this season, Yanni Gourde with 14, and Oliver Bjorkstrand with 20. However, Tolvanen and Gourde make up for their lack of goals this season, with 11 and 34 assists, respectively. This type of player combination among the lines will allow for stellar puck movement and great scoring chances, just so long as the defensemen can do what they did in game 5, and keep the puck in the offensive zone.

The downfall in Seattle’s offense, and frankly the team as a whole, is their confidence. It’s inconsistent. Throughout the whole series, we have seen Seattle score first. While that can be a huge boost to morale, this is still the Kraken’s second year as a franchise, with players who have only just this season found their groove and chemistry. Taking on a team with such immense veteran talent as the Colorado Avalanche, who are also trying to make their second cup final appearance in a row, can be daunting. Some nerves are to be expected. The confidence issue begins with the opening goal: Seattle scores, they become confident(obviously), and they hold a lead. They either maintain the lead or widen the gap, which pushes their confidence to overconfidence. It’s when the Avalanche score when the Kraken are shaken. With their comfort in their lead, they start to make mistakes. The Avs capitalize on those mistakes, and all of a sudden the Kraken can’t shake them. This leads to increased anxiety and careless plays, and the Avalanche inevitably make a comeback, like they almost did in the final period of game 5. The Kraken has to remain level-headed.


As a team, the Seattle Kraken have a solid defense, which even holds some offensively beneficial players; such as Adam Larsson, who’s blocked 173 shots this regular season, and Vince Dunn, another exceptional offensive-defenseman, has 80 blocks, with 14 goals and 50 assists this regular season. What makes the Kraken’s defense so good is the consistent pressure that they can deliver in their defensive zone. Their backchecking allowed them to regain possession of the puck frequently, and make great clearing plays even more often. Very prominent in game 5, and present throughout the whole series, Seattle’s players demonstrated great man-on-man defense. They stuck tight to the players they were guarding, and they were able to disrupt and intercept key passes which could have led to scoring opportunities for the Avalanche. The Seattle Kraken have also been a very physical team, not being afraid to throw their weight around.

One issue that I would say the Kraken defense has is not supporting Philipp Grubauer the way they should. As I mentioned before, the Kraken start off their games strong, typically scoring within the first period, and demonstrating smart defense. Whenever the Avalanche start closing the gap, it appears that Seattle’s players almost go into a panic— they either rush the Avalanche too quickly and too aggressively, or they don’t rush at all. Coming out of the locker room after a scoreless first on Wednesday night, they Kraken looked sleepy and lethargic. After acquiring possession of the puck following their ass-whipping in the defensive zone, the Kraken were finally able to net one, only to have that goal answered a mere minute later. Thankfully, during this game, the Kraken maintained their composition, and played a completely dominating defensive game up until the final horn. In earlier games this series, since they’re overall confidence in the series still wasn’t up, their panic overtook their ability to play and the Avalanche out-maneuvered, out-shot, out-played, and overall were simply better. They’ve been to the Cup before, and the Avs know how to handle pressure, and how to take the panic of another team and use it to their advantage, like forcing the Kraken to over-screen or try to block sight of the net too frequently, causing Philipp Grubauer’s overall performance to be negatively impacted. The goaltender has a hard time catching pucks if he can’t see them. My final critique of the Kraken defense, while they were great at keeping the puck in the offensive zone, their defensive zone coverage was terrible. If the Avalanche were successful in the backcheck, they could easily take it past the Seattle defenders into the D-zone. Although they can make up for this detriment in speed, if the Kraken don’t address this issue, it could very well cost them the series.


The Seattle Kraken 100% has the ability to close out this series. They can end it tonight. And honestly, I expect them to. The more experience you have with something, the more confident you become with coming up with solutions. I think the Seattle Kraken are at the perfect level of confidence to not only take advantage of the Avalanche’s cracks in their armor, but to also not get overconfident and get buried in a comeback like in games 2 and 3. It’s important that the Kraken depend on their ability to move the puck, and that the apple-pickers make those magic moves with those goal scorers in order to create as many opportunities as possible for their team. The defensive pairs for each line have been, and continue to do a phenomenal job keeping the puck in the offensive zone, but seem to be behind in their ability to defend their own zone. The Seattle Kraken must get this aspect of their game under control, even if they can close the gap with speed. Philipp Grubauer is a great goaltender. One of the best. Otherwise, the Seattle Kraken wouldn’t be in the position that they are in the playoffs. A goaltender, however, is only as good as his defense will allow him to be. The Kraken need to give Grubauer space to breathe. If they’re all on top of him trying to screen shooters, they only end up screening him, as well as restrict his movement and giving the Avalanche more chances than they should have to score. Now, obviously, Grubauer has the talent and ability to counter screens. But with the way the Kraken defends, it’s as if both teams are trying to stop him from doing his job. Screening is hard enough when the offense is doing it.. Get away from the crease, and let the man do his job. As long as the Kraken continue to play aggressively both in the neutral and offensive zone, they should see similar results to Game 5, if not better. They also need to mitigate the Avalanche’s entry into the defensive zone, and try a little harder with those neutral zone turnovers. With home ice advantage going into the sixth game of the series, the odds truly are in the Kraken’s favor, but they may see some trouble. While I believe they 100% have the ABILITY to close out the series, it may be their defensive deficit that could force game 7. However, they have the skill, their confidence is right at the perfect level coming off of a two game win, they’ll have an energizing home crowd to cheer them on, and undoubtedly tonight’s game will be a must watch. If they win, the Kraken will make history as the second fastest franchise to secure a Stanley Cup Playoff win in NHL history.


Author: Sebastian Towles

Hello! I'm the newest writer covering the newest franchise in the NHL. Originally born in Oklahoma and raised in North Carolina, I moved to Spokane in July of 2021, and fell in love with the city that eventually introduced me to hockey through the WHL. A Leafs fan at heart, I'll be bringing you some great stories about the Seattle Kraken, and more.

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