What: Colorado Avalanche at Seattle Kraken
Where: Climate Pledge Arena
When: Wednesday, April 20, 2022; 7:00pm PDT
Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Colorado Avalanche
Local TV: ROOT Sports NW
Local Radio: 950 AM KJR
SiriusXM: Channel 221
Last Time Out
After suffering a 7-3 beat-down by the Avs in November, the Kraken were looking to tighten up their defense during the second meeting in January, and hopefully make a stand against the relentless Colorado attack. Seattle took a 1-1 tie into the second period, then posted goals from Jared McCann and Kraken Legend Colin Blackwell to take a 3-1 lead. Colorado woke up from their 35-minute slumber at that point, responding with a goal in the ensuing two minutes and taking back the lead in the third. Kraken Legend Marcus Johansson had the other goal for Seattle; Philipp Grubauer had 31 saves in the loss. Final score: 4-3 Avalanche.
Stats, Streaks, & Droughts
To say that Colorado is a winning machine is to understate the situation by several miles. They have won 15 of their last 20 games, which included a stretch of 9 straight, and have locked up first place in both the Central Division and the Western Conference. The Avalanche win by shutting other teams out. They win by scoring 6 or more goals. They win 9-3 blowouts, and they win 2-1 nail-biters. They win with their starting goalie; they win with their backup goalie. Pretty much every night, and in every way you can imagine: if the Avalanche are on the ice, they win.
Turning to Seattle: don’t look now, but the Kraken are playing .500 hockey. The last 16 games have been split down the middle — eight wins and eight losses. This is the third (and longest) sustained stretch of break-even results since November. The unfortunate footnote to that statistic is, each of those periods of competitive hockey is separated by a lengthy series of losses — 9 straight from December 15th through January 15th; 11 of 12 from February 14th through March 10th. It suggests, however, that this team — these players, these coaches — is capable of competing in the Pacific Division. They just need to work on consistency, both in-game and over the course of the season.
Players To Watch
While all the media attention this year has been on the scoring records being chased by Auston Matthews and Alexander Ovechkin, the Avalanche have four players who have each put up over 80 points this season. For reference, no other team has more than two. The onslaught begins with right wing Mikko Rantanen, who leads the team in both goals (36) and points (91):
Next up is forward Nazem Kadri, who has exceeded his single-season career high for points by more than 20 as he approaches free agency this summer:
Next up is Cale Makar, who adds a plus-48 rating to his 83 points — not to mention setting a single-season franchise record for goals by a defenseman as seen in this clip:
And finally there is Nathan MacKinnon, who has been limited to 60 games due to injury but has still put up 84 points on the year:
Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches
Though nobody is formally listed as being on Injured Reserve, the Avs have a number of players nursing injuries who are doubtful for tonight. Forwards Nazem Kadri, Gabriel Landeskog, and Andrew Cogliano fall into this category, as do defensemen Devon Toews, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Murray. Backup netminder Pavel Francouz has been taking roughly every third start, and with the Kraken game sandwiched between tilts against the Washington Capitals and Edmonton Oilers, it’s likely that Seattle will be facing Francouz this evening.
For the Kraken, still no timeline for the return of forward Jaden Schwartz, and with the season dwindling it’s not a crazy idea to suggest that he’s done for the year. Haydn Fleury returned to the lineup against the New Jersey Devils; rookie Matty Beniers continues to adapt well to the NHL, notching another goal on Monday and bringing his points total to two goals and one assist in just three games; and we expect to see Kole Lind slot back into the lineup after sitting out against the Ottawa Senators. Chris Driedger got the start on Monday; expect Philipp Grubauer to man the nets against his former club tonight.