The Seattle Kraken will begin their 2022-23 season on October 12th against the Anaheim Ducks. That game will kick off a very busy Month One of the National Hockey League schedule that sees them play ten games in eighteen nights. It’s great news for the fanbase, who will not have to go two days without seeing their team play until more than two weeks into the season, but if the team doesn’t perform, they could find themselves in a hole before November begins.
It’s not going to be easy, and we will quickly learn if the roster additions made by general manager Ron Francis are actually improvements or if there will simply be a different set of players losing more games than they win this season.
The season begins with not one, not two, but three divisional matchups against teams that the Kraken will need to leapfrog if they want to play in the post-season in the Spring. First, as mentioned, they will visit the Ducks. An imperfect team, but with a few young stars who look primed for a leap forward in terms of production. Anaheim is likely going to be streaky this year, and it may be a stroke of luck that Seattle faces them before they have a chance to get rolling. A winnable game, if things go right. (1-0)
The very next night the puck will drop at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles as the Kraken take on the Kings. As long in the tooth as the Ducks are young, but the Kings were a playoff team last season, and we should expect a tough fight. While Seattle plays back-to-back nights, the Kings will be rested and with number one defenseman Drew Doughty back in the lineup. A win is possible here as well, but a loss seems more likely, preferably in overtime, collecting a single point that might end up being important in what looks to be a tight playoff race. (1-0-1)
Seattle’s third game in four nights will be against the Vegas Golden Knights. By the weekend we should have an idea if the Kraken can score at a rate above the league average. That’s going to be the key against the Knights, who look like they’ll be trying to win 6-5 most nights. Vegas is a wild card (pardon the pun) because of their goaltending situation. If things solidify back there, they may challenge for the division title, but if they can’t get the saves they will be there for the taking. I think the Kraken win on Saturday night. (2-0-1)
Week 2 and Onward
While the first three games are winnable and in the division, the next three are going to be real tests. The Carolina Hurricanes (3rd), St. Louis Blues (9th), and Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche (2nd) were all amongst the top teams in the league last season. There is little to suggest that any of the three will backslide in 22-23 either. A reasonable expectation for the first week might be two wins, but in Week Two I think the Kraken will be lucky to snag two of the possible six points. That’s going to leave their combined record hovering right around 0.500 (3-2-1).
Week Three is a very different story. The Chicago Blackhawks are going to be fighting for top lottery draft odds all season, and while the Buffalo Sabres might be better, it’s hard to picture them as world-beaters. Two fairly easy wins should have the Kraken skating with some swagger when the Vancouver Canucks visit Climate Pledge Arena. Vancouver had their number last year, but splitting the season series (or better) needs to be the goal. I’d like a 3-0 run here, and if that happens it will say a lot about the team’s abilities, but 2-1 feels more likely. (5-3-1)
Finishing out the week, and the marathon opening month, the Kraken will host the Pittsburgh Penguins on the 29th. It’s hard to be sure what to expect from the Pens, whose core group of stars from their Cup runs are still in place, though toward the back end of very productive careers. But while the Kraken may be running on fumes at the end of their packed October schedule, the Penguins play the night before in Vancouver, and are likely to start a back up goaltender as a result. I’m forecasting a loss, but once again, maybe that happens in overtime or the shootout. (5-3-2)
A final record for the month of 5 wins, 3 losses and 2 overtime/shootout losses would probably have the Kraken in the bottom middle of the Western Conference standings. It would mean there is a hill to climb toward playoff contention, but given the highly compacted schedule they are looking at, I think it’s a respectable result. And if the get a couple bounces in the overtime games they might even find themselves with some breathing room when November rolls around.