After a disastrous inaugural season, the Seattle Kraken have qualified for the playoffs in year two, and what do they get as a reward: the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche. This is going to be a tough mountain to climb for the NHL’s newest franchise, but the Avalanche have more weaknesses than they did last season, when they had virtually none. To get a sense of each team's strengths and weaknesses, let's take a closer look at their respective statistics and compare them head-to-head.
Here's a tale of the tape for the upcoming series:
Seattle’s biggest edge is that they are a deep team that has scored goals at a high rate all season, but judging the Kraken by metrics like shot attempts makes them look a lot more average. The Kraken had six players that hit 20 goals, plus seven more that scored at least 10 goals on the season, and they’re going to need that depth because – unlike Colorado – they don’t have any star power.
Seattle did manage to win two out of three games against the Avalanche this season, but the latter is built for playoff success and their superstar-laden wasn’t put together like it is now. Colorado has been the best offensive team (even strength) for a few months now, and while Seattle has remained as one of the league’s top offensive teams, it hasn’t resulted in very many wins against playoff teams.
The Kraken won just 40 percent of their games against the NHL’s 16 best teams this season and the went just 7-16 against playoff teams between January 1st and the end of the season.
Can Seattle’s goaltending get the job done?
The easy answer would be no. Both goaltenders (Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer) have had their moments, but neither has been able to hold things down for long. Seattle ranks among the bottom-five teams in save percentage this season and while Philipp Grubauer has played decent at times, he hasn’t been able to be a difference maker versus top-tier teams and it’s unlikely this tandem will be good enough to beat the Avalanche in a best-of-seven unless the Avalanche find a way to beat themselves.
Is Alexandar Georgiev the real deal?
Alexandar Georgiev thought he was first in line for the throne in New York. Georgiev had backed up The King, Henrik Lundqvist, for a few years and was likely not happy when the Rangers brought in Igor Shesterkin and a trade was facilitated that has worked out well for both teams. The Avalanche received a lot of flak for starting the season with two backup goaltenders, but Georgiev has played his best hockey since the trade, finishing the season ranked 12th in goals saved above expected. The Avalanche are a great defensive team, and they do a good job of insulating their goaltenders, but unlike last season, when a lot of pundits thought they could win the Stanley Cup with just about any goalie in the crease, goaltending is probably going to be more important, and Georgiev will have to prove himself when it counts.
Will depth be a problem for the Avalanche?
Colorado has dealt with injuries all season long, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel with captain Gabriel Landeskog expected to return in time for the playoffs. Unfortunately, the team announced that Landeskog will not be returning to play in the playoffs after suffering several setbacks with his injured knee. Landeskog scored 11 goals and 22 points in 22 playoff games last season and not having him in the lineup for another run at the Stanley Cup was not something the team thought possible at the start of the season.
The Avalanche lost key players from their championship team due salary cap constraints, and now Landeskog. Not to mention, last season’s Conn Smythe winner, Cale Makar, has been banged up a lot this season. Head coach Jared Bednar believes Makar will be ready for the start of the playoffs, but it’s unclear whether the defenseman will be operating at 100 percent. Depth and durability could be an issue, unlike last season, but the Avalanche have still have so much talent so they will probably be able to overcome it.
Who will win the series?
There are many ways a best-of-seven series can play out and it’s important to consider the entire range of possibilities when making series predictions. I calculate the probability of each team winning in four, five, six, or seven games and then use those predictions to price series prop markets such as the series winner, series spread, correct score, and total games. Here are my predictions:
Series Probabilities: Colorado Avalanche
Series Probabilities: Seattle Kraken
The Western Conference has been objectively worse than the Eastern Conference, and a team like Seattle probably wouldn’t have been able to sneak into the playoffs if they weren’t on the West Coast. Still, the Kraken’s depth at the forward position will make it difficult for the Avalanche to know where to focus their efforts, as the Kraken can bring the attack from everywhere. It just likely won’t be enough to win four out of seven games against a team with far more star power and playoff pedigree. Colorado should move onto the second round approximately 73 percent of the time which lines up closely to the series price at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Colorado Avalanche -260, Seattle Kraken +210