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Potential Seattle Kraken Playoff Matchups in First Round

The Seattle Kraken punched their ticket to the postseason this past Thursday with a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. They also set the record for the biggest improvement for an expansion team from their first to second seasons. With every additional point in the standings, that record notches slightly higher too. But now with that feather in their cap, attention immediately shifts towards the greater prize: the Stanley Cup. With only a handful of games remaining, fans can’t help but start checking the standings to see who their team might draw in the first round. So, let’s do just that and review the Kraken’s potential playoff matchups for round one.

Potential Kraken Playoff Matchups – First Round

The top wildcard seed feels destined for the Kraken at the moment. That said, they remain close enough to the Los Angeles Kings to surpass them for a top-three seat in the Pacific Division. While the Winnipeg Jets haven’t secured their postseason berth yet, they remain the only team close enough to catch Seattle from behind. Should that happen, the Kraken would wind up in the final playoff spot out of the eight qualifying teams out west.

So, that leaves three options available for the Kraken’s seat in the playoffs. They could earn the third seed in the Pacific, or occupy one of the two wild card slots. That said, the options for their first round opponent remain far more numerous.

To keep it simple, the exercise will walk through it in sequential order; the potential opponents if they finish third in the Pacific, then in the first wild card seat, and finally in the last wild card seat. Let’s begin.

If Seattle Finishes Third in the Pacific…

For this outcome to take place, Seattle needs to pick up at least four more points than the Kings do in their remaining contests. Seattle has one more game left on their schedule too, so they need to win that one extra and also out-win LA by one more. The Kings face some non-playoff teams in their final couple of games, while Seattle wraps up with a pair against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Kraken Playoff Matchup vs Edmonton Oilers

So, surpassing Los Angeles won’t come easily. But, should they find a way into that third place spot in the Pacific, the Kraken playoff matchup could be against the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton went to the Western Conference Final last season, but a quick four game sweep from the Colorado Avalanche ended the run abruptly.

Connor McDavid, already widely regarded as the best hockey player on the planet right now, wants more. He broke the 150-point echelon this season, becoming just the sixth player in league history to do so. Somehow, the phenom continues growing more and more phenomenal. That’s all before even mentioning Leon Draisaitl. Oh, and in four matchups this season, Seattle went 1-3-0 against Edmonton. Another opponent may be preferred for the Kraken playoff matchup.

Kraken Playoff Matchup vs Vegas Golden Knights

It may seem strange, but the currently first-placed Knights also factor in as a possible opponent should Seattle climb into third. It actually is more likely than playing Edmonton in that scenario. Since Seattle needs to basically win out to reach third, doing so would deal two losses to the Golden Knights.

And if Vegas drops two games, the Oilers can very well surpass them for first. They split their first two matchups 1-1-0 with Vegas, and a first-round series between the two newest NHL franchises sure sounds fun. Again, this particular scenario means Seattle won their last couple games against Vegas too, so maybe their confidence goes up against a team they handled well so recently.

Despite many injuries and a carousel of goaltenders over the year, they remain a force in the west. Whether Jonathan Quick, Laurent Brossoit, Adin Hill, Logan Thompson or Jiri Patera gets the nod in net, they find ways to win.

If Seattle Finishes in the First Wild Card Seat…

Here, we have the most likely outcome. Again the Kraken need quite a few wins and some help to make the previous scenarios come to fruition. On the other hand, dropping to the second wild card seat requires quite a few Kraken losses and a stellar finish for the Jets. The mushy middle, where many other possibilities exist, looks most likely.

Rinse & Repeat Opponents

Seattle might draw either Vegas or Edmonton in round one as the top wild-card team, too. These outcomes require one of the Central Division leaders to surpass everyone and win the Western Conference title. Two teams in the Central have footing to do so, but again, it’ll take some help in the form of Vegas/Edmonton losses.

But, if the Pacific Division boasts the eventual Conference winner, that leaves the Kraken with a matchup against whoever wins the Central.

Kraken Playoff Matchup vs Colorado Avalanche

The Central Division race remains very wide open, as three strong teams continue racking up the wins. Based on points percentage, the Colorado Avalanche lead the pack. However, they sit behind the Dallas Stars (just with two games in hand).

And what a tough matchup that looks like for the Kraken. Not often do teams want to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions right out of the gate in the postseason. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen both had career years, and that’s saying something for guys who already had phenomenal career resumes.

That said, Seattle went 2-0-1 against Colorado during the regular season this year. Maybe the Avs actually stand as a quietly favorable playoff matchup for the Kraken. Surely, that sounds like the wrong assumption.

Kraken Playoff Matchup vs Dallas Stars

Dallas currently leads the Central, but needs the Avs to drop some games if they want to stay on top. If that happens, they’ll square off against the top wild card team in round one. That makes the Stars yet another potential playoff matchup for the Kraken.

Seattle finished 1-1-1 against Dallas this season. That one victory came in overtime, but all three games featured similar shot counts and even-keeled results. Jake Oettinger rose to fame last year with some playoff heroics in net. The goaltending edge goes to Dallas in this matchup, as Seattle still hasn’t found real consistency from either Phillip Grubauer or Martin Jones.

Kraken Playoff Matchup vs Minnesota Wild

Last but not least, the Minnesota Wild remain in contention for the Central Division title too. They trail both Dallas and Colorado in points, plus they sit behind both in the tiebreaker scenarios.

Regardless, there is a real possibility that Minnesota claims the Central while Seattle claims the top wild card slot. That means the two might clash in the first round. Out of all the potential Kraken playoff matchups, Minnesota and Seattle might make for the most boring series to watch. The Wild are without Kirill Kaprizov, their best offensive weapon. Plus, their disciplined style of hockey combined with elite goaltending of late from rookie Filip Gustavsson makes for some tough sledding for their opponents.

Meanwhile, the Kraken do a lot of the same things on their side of the ice. A “win by committee” approach has Seattle wearing opponents out, and their smothering defence holds opponents to shot counts in the 20’s more often than not. Head-to-head, Seattle went 1-2-0 against Minnesota this season. One shutout victory occurred for each team, including a barn-burning 1-0 Wild win earlier this year. Please, hockey gods, give us any other outcome than this one…

If Seattle Finishes in the First Wild Card Seat…

Alright, we’re winding things down now. This final potential playoff seat only lands in Seattle’s hands if two things happen. First, Seattle cannot earn another point. (This looks improbable right now, too. As I type, Seattle enters the second period with a 3-1 lead Saturday night. By the time this is published, readers may be able to skip the rest of this article altogether.) Second, the Jets must win out and earn all available points left on their schedule. That both earns them a playoff berth, and vaults them one point above the Kraken.

If all that happens, Seattle will play the Golden Knights. Again, Vegas closes the season with two games against Seattle. The only way Seattle finds themselves in the bottom playoff slot is by losing out, thereby meaning Vegas must win those two games. If that happens, Vegas will own 111 points, enough to put them out of reach of all other teams for the Western Conference title.

So, in total, eight outcomes exist. Two for Seattle as the third placed Pacific squad, five as the top wild card team, and one as the bottom wild card team. Of those possibilities, three see them colliding with Vegas in round one. Two end with an Oilers vs Kraken playoff matchup. And the final three get split between Colorado, Dallas, and Minnesota at one apiece. None of these look especially favourable, and the only Kraken playoff matchup where they won the season series would be versus the Avalanche. That feels less than ideal, but hey, anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Main Photo: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports


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