Kraken go to Vegas with playoff push complete

Matty Beniers Skating
Photo by Jenn

The Need To Knows

The Time: 7:00pm PT / 10:00 pm ET

The Place: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

Place to Watch: ROOT-NW, ESPN+ and Sportsnet+ for out of market

Place to Listen: KJR 93.3fm

Know Your Enemy

The Golden Knights are in a bit of a scramble mode right now as they’ve gotten hit by a rash of injuries. Their star center Jack Eichel missed Saturday’s game with injury and is day-to-day. Their captain Mark Stone hasn’t played since having back surgery. Defensemen Shea Theodore is out. Four different goalies have started at least 9 games this season. This came when Robyn Lehner, their starting goalie, was ruled out for the year before the season started. They’ve really had a rough go of things recently.

But stylistically, they like to play a very defensive style, keeping everything to the outside, and playing low-event hockey. They also have an extremely dangerous transition game, so they grind out a lot of wins by being patient and then capitalizing on mistakes and getting odd-man rushes going the other way to create chances. Their defensive style is also pretty goaltender friendly; three of their goalies have a .915 save percentage or better.

The goal song

The Vegas goal song is “Vegas Lights” by Panic! At the Disco.

This is an excellent goal song choice. It’s hard to come up with a more perfect choice for a Vegas hockey team than a song called “Vegas Lights” and the artist is local. It has a good crowd participant “ohh ohh,” it’s punchy, and it’s high-energy.

It is not a coincidence that Vegas and Seattle have goal songs selected with great thought and care. Some people incredibly good at their jobs designed the in-game experience for the Golden Knights, and they crushed it. (If you ever get a chance to attend a home VGK game, go. It’s the most ridiculous, over-the-top nonsense in the best way.)

The Kraken know a good thing when they see it, so they hired a lot of the Vegas people to design the in-game experience for the games at Climate Pledge. (If you ever get a chance to attend a home Kraken game, go. It’s a slightly less ridiculous, not quite as over-the-top nonsense in the best way.)

Game Preview

I’m not sure what Dave Hakstol’s plan is for these last two games. Against the Coyotes last night, Vince Dunn and Jaden Schwartz were scratched for load management issues. We can safely assume Joey Daccord will be the starter, since Grubauer started last night. But assuming this is a normal game and gameplan, this is a pretty tricky spot for Seattle. The Kraken have been much, much better about turnovers recently, because that is the most likely pathway to their downfall.

But here’s a fascinating quirk: it may actually tangibly benefit Seattle to lose this game, and that’s because of playoff matchups. Right now, the Kraken are the top wildcard team, which would have them playing the winner of the Central division (Colorado, Dallas, or Minnesota). If Seattle passes Los Angeles to become the third division team, their most likely opponent is Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid is laying absolute waste to the NHL this season and it would be in Seattle’s best interests to avoid him as much as possible. Staying the top wildcard team would likely put them against Colorado, who aren’t as scary this year if Cale Makar is out for any length of time.

In fact, Moneypuck agrees: a loss to Vegas increases Seattle’s chances of winning their first-round series:

Winning is more fun than losing, but this is a warmup and get-healthy game. Just get through the game, maybe try some line combinations or experiments for the playoffs, and get through healthy.

This is the calm before the storm. Enjoy the lull and the relaxing games. Next week the intensity is going to hit the stratosphere.