The Need to Knows
The Time: 7:00 pm PT / 10:00 pm ET
The Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA
Place to Watch: ROOT Northwest, KCOP-13 for LA fans, ESPN+ and Sportsnet+ for out of market fans
Place to Listen: KJR 93.3fm
Know Your Enemy
The LA Kings continue to be a strong force in the Pacific Division. While they haven’t clinched their playoff spot yet (the only team in the entire Western Conference to do so at the time of me writing this is Vegas, though Edmonton could also join in) with the ground they’ve gained in the standings, they’re practically locked in. Only a losing streak of epic proportions would knock them out now,
A major key to watch out for is that the Kings’ power play currently sits tied for 2nd in the league with a 25.2% success rate. While the Kraken are decently well-behaved with the 24th most penalty minutes in the league, it’s still a smart idea to stay disciplined.
Kevin Fiala is turning out to be a great offseason acquisition for the Kings, as he currently leads them with 70 points. For comparison’s sake, Vince Dunn leads the Kraken with 61 points. It’s not a huge gap, especially since the Kraken’s method has been to beat opponents with their depth, but after Dom Luszczyszyn posted to The Athletic (paywalled content) about how it’s more important to have star power in the playoffs as opposed to depth, it’s important to point these differentials out.
This game matters to the Kraken not just in terms of bringing them closer to clinching their own playoff spot, but because it can help them close a gap in the divisional standings. Right now, the Kraken have 90 points and are sitting in the first wild card slot. The LA Kings are right above them with 96 points in the third Pacific slot. No, beating the Kings tonight would not allow the Kraken to leapfrog them, but if they lose, the gap between them would widen to 8 points (or 7 if it’s an overtime loss).
Now, the overall goal for the Kraken this season has just been to make the playoffs. It might not seem at first glance like it matters whether the Kraken finish third or fourth in the division. When figuring out who the Kraken’s playoff opponent would be, though, it’s crucial. I’ll explain this in further detail in an upcoming piece for those of you who might not be familiar with the NHL’s playoff bracket, but where the Kraken finish could determine whether they start their playoffs in the Central or Pacific quadrant. No, they aren’t officially in yet, but it’s food for thought.
Throughout the season series so far, the Kraken have taken all three contests. Two of those went to overtime – one of them being the thrilling 9-8 contest of chaos – but the Kraken secured a 6 out of 6 possible points. Jared McCann has put up 3 goals against them this season, so he would be a good candidate to keep an eye on for scoring tonight – but then again, when isn’t he?
I also mentioned Dunn above, and continue to expect him to put up points. He is also the assists leader with 48 of them, which proves that much of the offense for the Kraken flows through him. Matty Beniers may be a prime MVP candidate for the Kraken, but so is Dunn.
No matter how the outcome of this game goes, these are two teams fighting for the best position possible in the playoffs. Expect a good game to come out of this.