We’ve now passed the NHL’s halfway mark, and for that Seattle Kraken36 games remain and could pave the way for what could be the franchise’s first playoff run. The remaining games feature several divisional matchups, some Eastern swings and a home-and-home feature that could ultimately decide the division.
The Krakens have done well to position themselves to succeed as we enter the dog days of the season, but every game is important. Their 27-14-5 record ranks second in the Pacific Division and fourth in the Western Conference, but you can bet their ambitions are high.
Pacific Division War
The Pacific is up for grabs, and the Kraken have an uphill battle ahead of them as they look to fend off the Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers. 11 of Kraken’s last 36 games against Pacific Opponents, they must beat the teams they are most familiar with.
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Right now, Seattle has an 8-5-2 record against division opponents, which means they’ve left several points on the table in close games, despite their winning record. Their goal differential against the division is pretty close, and even in high-scoring games their opponents stick around. With a 4-2-2 record in one-goal games, the Kraken will need to find a way to secure two points in this tough contest.
This is where depth scoring comes into play. Yes, they’ll score from their top six, that’s what they’re made of. But every ounce of offense they can get from their role players is worth it.
Although he has seen improved minutes in the last several games, Ryan Donato The following six minutes provided an attacking spark. He apparently Another gear was found in DecemberAnd his eight goals since Dec. 1 are third on the team in that span.
Daniel Sprung has the second most goals since December 1 with 10 goals in 24 games. This is above His already strong start, which greatly affected the Kraken’s ability to create offense. Sprong and Donato are both averaging less than 12 minutes of ice time per game, so they’re clearly making the most of their opportunities.
If the bottom of the lineup can continue to produce at its current rate and the top half does its job, the Kraken should be set for a strong second half. Their offensive game is incredibly important, as they have been able to outscore a number of issues. If they keep that rolling, the rest of the team will follow.
Tough Eastern Conference swing
The Kraken will face their toughest test yet as they take another swing east. It’s not quite as scary though Seven-game swing Having seen them sweep every game on the trip from January 3 to January 14, it’s still a tough challenge.
This latest test sees them visit the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets. The games against the second- and third-placed Devils and Rangers in the Metropolitan Division come on back-to-back nights. Both factions pose unique threats, but Kraken seems well-equipped to handle them. They have already played the Rangers and Devils once this season and won both games in overtime.
Another test will come against the Jets. The Jets and Kraken are ranked second and fourth in the Western Conference and split the previous matchups by one game. A trip to Winnipeg to cap off their road trip will undoubtedly be an exciting matchup of two Western contenders hoping to take advantage of a wide-open conference. The Jets are tied atop the Central Division and Western Conference with a 31-16-1 record and are four points ahead of the Kraken in the overall standings.
Vegas could decide the home-and-home division
In perhaps the most important two-game set of the season, the Kraken close out their season with a home-and-home series against the Golden Knights. The race is already tight in the Pacific, so these two games could determine the division champion.
When they meet on April 11 and 13, it will be the first time they have seen each other since November 25, when The Kraken beat the Golden Knights 4-2 in Vegas. The season series is split with both teams winning a game, but if the points are spread between the top three Pacific teams, that extra game can be won in a tiebreaker.
There are few things as exciting and nerve-wracking as the final week of the regular season when a team still hasn’t decided where they stand. It could be settled before the two-game set, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where one team pulls away when all of them are still so close.
While nothing is ever a given, the Kraken appear poised to make their playoff debut this season. As successful as their first half was, they made it a little easier on themselves down the stretch.
Brian Finlayson is a lifelong hockey fan, and has written for hockey-related websites and blogs in recent years. Now, Brian has joined THW as a Seattle Kraken contributor and is very excited to help cover the NHL’s newest team.
Brian spends most of his time as a student working towards a communications and media degree at Canadian Mennonite University. She hopes to combine her love of sports and storytelling to find a career in sports media.