The defending Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche will start their quest to go back-to-back on Tuesday, but they will have to go through the new kids to the playoffs in the Seattle Kraken first.
These two teams met three times in the regular season, with Seattle taking two out of the three meetings.
This should be an interesting matchup, with a veteran and star-filled Avalanche team going up against the unproven and young Seattle Kraken team in the playoffs. Here are the five things you should look for when watching this series.
The Avalanche are back in the playoffs looking to win back-to-back Cups.
1. Matty Beniers in his first appearance in the playoffs.
Matty Beniers put on a very good rookie campaign for the Kraken, scoring 24 goals and 57 points in 80 games. His strong first season in the leagues puts him as one of the favorites to win the Calder Trophy. The real question is, can he take his game to another level in the playoffs?
There are some players on the Kraken that do have playoff experience, and that should help, but a big part of Seattle going on a run is going to have to be Beniers taking his game to the next level.
2. How will Seattle’s goaltending hold up?
Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer will be the tandem Seattle will have to start the series. Both of these goalies are veterans, who have playoff experience but are coming off subpar regular season results.
Martin Jones has played in 62 career playoff games and has a .917 SV %, while Grubauer has played in 33 games and a .910 SV%.
These two are going to have to try to find their past playoff success because their regular season numbers won’t cut it, and if Seattle’s goaltending isn’t improved, it could be the biggest disadvantage for the Kraken in this series.
3. How will Colorado play without Landeskog?
Some people reading this might think this is silly for me to bring up because the Avs have been without their captain for the whole season.
However, in the playoffs, it is important to have a leader in the locker room, something the Avs will be without since their captain has been ruled out for the entire playoffs:
It’s unlikely this affects Colorado a ton against the Kraken, but it could be a factor to look at if Seattle pulls off an upset.
4. The Kraken’s element of surprise.
Most people that bet or cover this series are going to take Colorado in this series, and it’s for good reason. They have stars up and down the lineup. But the Kraken should not be taken lightly, because they’ll surprise you.
No one thought this team would be anywhere near the playoffs, and here they are coming off a season where they got 100 points.
5. How energized the Avalanche are.
The Avs have played a lot of hockey in the last calendar year, and sometimes that catches up to players. The Avs and Kraken have very different looks going into these playoffs. The Kraken have every reason to be energized, while as I said above, the Avs could be worn down.
Final Prediction: The Avalanche win in five games.
While this series is going to be entertaining, I think the Avalanche will have a pretty easy time as long as they stay focused. They just have an overall superior roster to the Kraken and are more experienced.