The playoffs have finally been set for the Colorado Avalanche. Thanks to their 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, they clinched the Central Division crown and play the first wild card team.
They will host the newest team in the NHL in their first playoff appearance. This is, of course, the Seattle Kraken. Hence, it should be an entertaining series thanks to high-flying offense on both sides, one of which we’ll preview here.
Here’s the official schedule for the first round between the Avs and Kraken #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/IN60y20z6k— y - Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) April 15, 2023
Seattle Kraken Projected Forwards
Jared McCann (19) - Matthew Beniers (10) - Jordan Eberle (7)
Jaden Schwartz (17) - Alexander Wennberg (21) - Morgan Geekie (67)
Eeli Tolvanen (20) - Yanni Gourde (37) - Oliver Bjorkstrand (22)
Brandon Tanev (13) - Ryan Donato (9) - Daniel Sprong (91)
Other Forwards: Joonas Donskoi (UBI), Andre Burakovsky (LBI), John Hayden, Jesper Froden
First line: Young gun providing
The most interesting name from the top line is Matty Beniers, the rookie who has come in and been an incredible talent. Beniers has accounted for 24 goals and 33 assists in 80 games this year with the Kraken. His run has been accompanied by Eberle with 20 goals and 43 assists, with the team's top scorer being McCann with 40 goals and 30 assists.
Should Beniers be able to translate his speed and utilize his linemates, they will be dangerous and go against the Avs’ best line simultaneously. If they keep providing, the others will want to follow and easily can.
Second line: Veteran presence bodes well
Schwartz is the big name on the second line. The former St. Louis Blues member has now called Seattle home for two years and had a solid year in the Pacific Northwest. He has 21 goals and 40 assists to his name.
Meanwhile, Wennberg and Geekie are two names likely not to pop out at people on the roster sheet. Geekie accounts for nine goals and 19 assists while Wennberg has 13 goals and 25 assists. Their chemistry working together could be similar to the Avs’ second line they’ve had all season, thus making it a good matchup as well.
Third Line: Surprising new talent
The NHL world was a little shocked to find the Predators waiving Eeli Tolvanen earlier in the season. Who knew where he would go at that point?
The Kraken was the Tolvanen lottery winner, picking him up, and has now been a great depth piece. 18 goals and 13 assists have been vital for the first-rounder in his new home. Gourde and Bjorkstrand have combined for 34 goals and 59 assists, with the first of those two earning a lot of penalty minutes, however. Their great scoring depth could give them an advantage over the Avs.
Fourth Line: The hard workers
Tanev and his incredible roster picture have been a funny theme throughout the Kraken’s history. He also brings scoring, with 16 goals and 19 assists. Donato’s 14 goals and 13 assists along with Sprong’s 21 goals and 25 assists.
The key difference the Kraken depth brings is tons of scoring. They have been crucial and come up big at times. They will need to do so again in this series and have a good chance to do so here.
Who has the advantage?
The Avs have more top-heavy talent, as the Kraken don’t have a Nathan MacKinnon or a Mikko Rantanen. The top talent for the Avs will be miles ahead of Seattle’s top talent simply because they’re at a different echelon.
However, where Seattle could beat the Avs is in their depth and the scoring their depth provides. This is especially if the health of the Avalanche already in question as it already is with Darren Helm, Andrew Cogliano, and Denis Malgin.
Even if those three are in the lineup, they don’t nearly have the same scoring accolades as the Avs do. This was key in Colorado winning the Cup last year. And of course, without captain Gabriel Landeskog providing additional middle-six scoring, the task becomes that much tougher.
Colorado will have to rely on their big guns to do well and outscore the Kraken, while the depth manages to keep up with Seattle’s depth and shut them down too - particularly Tolvanen. I’d give it a 50/50 split between the two teams.