The Stanley Cup Playoffs are diving into round two and the action is not slowing down. With the power house Boston Bruins and defending champion Avalanche eliminated, the field is wide open. A team that is getting overlooked in the Western Conference is the Seattle Kraken.
Overlooking them makes plenty of sense considering they are only in their second year of existence. The last expansion team to have quick playoff success is the Vegas Golden Knights who made the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2018. However, why wouldn’t the underdog win it all? Here are three reasons the Kraken could pull off the upset.
Kraken Defense Is Better Than You Think
While Seattle might not have the resume of other teams left in the playoffs, they certainly have the skill. The biggest success factor so far for Seattle has to be their ability to play physical but also their speed on defense.
Seattle recorded 47 hits in game one and physically wore down the Stars. In round one, they allowed only 15 rush chances which all but shut down the Avalanche. Seattle was the best team in the league in the regular season when it came to defending the rush and now it is carrying over into the postseason.
The defensive play of Yanni Gourde, along with linemates Oliver Bjorkstrand and Eeli Tolvanen got the job done. If Seattle hopes to continue far in the playoffs, the high-level defense has to continue.
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Goals, Goals, And More Goals
Seattle lit up the scoreboard in round one and in record fashion as well. Seattle scored the first goal of every game in the series making them just the second team in NHL history to do so (Toronto, 2004). Seattle also is the first-ever team to accomplish such a feat in their first playoff series.
Another testament to this teams goal scoring ability is the fact that 15 different skaters scored a goal in round one, the most of any team in the playoffs this year. Seattle has made it clear that they want to play fast and get extra shots on net. With three players scoring multiple goals in round one, the offense has shown they can score on anyone. Obviously the amount of goal scoring from round one might not continue but if Seattle can continue to get extra possessions and shots on net, the goals will continue to flow.
Goalie Play Has To Continue To Improve
During the regular season, the Kraken’s goalie play was ranked near the bottom of the league. Starting goalie Philipp Grubauer finished with a .895 save percentage ranking 40th among 52 goalies in the league who logged at least 25 games. One of the 12 guys behind him was his own teammate Martin Jones, whose .887 save rate ranks 48th.
However, Grubauer has flipped a switch and finished with a .934 save percentage in round one. That percentage was the third best of any goaltender playing six or more games. He also was saving .33 even strength goals per 60 at even strength throughout the series.
So with all of that information, the message here is that Grubauer and Jones have to continue improving. The teams left in the playoffs are full of skill players that the Kraken would need to prepare for. This goalie group managed to keep Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon hemmed in so now that trend has to continue for the Kraken to win more games.
The Seattle Kraken are trying to become the fastest expansion team to win the Stanley Cup since their creation in 2021. Seattle is also the first expansion team in NHL history to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions in their first-ever playoff series. The success is there already for the Kraken but this will only get more tough as they continue to advance in the bracket. The veteran pieces are there, the defense and offense have found a groove, now they just need to continue executing.