(Seattle Hockey Insider will be in Denver providing Seattle Kraken coverage for the 1st-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs)
Many Seattle Kraken fans are familiar; others will be very soon. When you tune in Tuesday evening around 7 pm pacific time, you’ll see a much more energetic, much louder Ball Arena in Denver than you normally would. You’ll feel nervous tension through your TV screen or radio.
It’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs and for the unindoctrinated who may be sick of hearing how magical or different that makes things, you’ll soon be drinking from the same very refreshing Kool-Aid. Maybe a few first timers tuned in Monday night to get a taste from the Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars or the Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers. That’s what we’re talking about.
A lot of physical, plenty of nasty, and a whole bunch of drama.
“Excited,” Kraken leading scorer Jared McCann said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “If you’re not nervous, you’re not ready. I feel like that’s the way things have been going for us, we’ve obviously earned the opportunity to be in the playoffs and we’re excited for the opportunity.”
Where this Seattle Kraken – Colorado Avalanche series leads us is anyone’s guess. The guessing game is futile. One kind of feels as if the Kraken could pull off an upset in Game-1, while others remain confident there’s no chance in hell.
There’s simply no way of knowing.
Kraken First Timer
There’s a prominent Kraken forward who can empathize. He’s played big international tournaments including the non-NHL Winter Olympics in 2022, he’s watched plenty of Stanley Cup playoffs, but this will be his first experience on-ice.
“It’s definitely going to be a more physical game,” Kraken rookie Matty Beniers said Tuesday morning. “It’s just like any other game, you’ve got to treat it like that. Obviously, there’s a little bit more on the line, but just play the same way.”
And make sure you keep your head up.
“It’s definitely looks faster,” Beniers added. “but, that’s to be expected, it’s the playoffs right? I’m definitely excited.”
Although recent former Avalanche forward and two-time Stanley Cup champion Andre Burakovsky (Washington Capitals 2018, Colorado 2022) isn’t available for the series, Beniers has six other options for seeking the ultimate advice.
Shift disturber and versatile forward Yanni Gourde won two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Just do your thing,” Gourde advised. “Energy level is going to be a little bit higher, every little thing matters a little bit more, but at the end of the day it’s a hockey game, you can’t over-think it, you can’t try too hard, you just do what you do, and do what makes you successful. If you’ve gotta make plays you make plays, if you’ve gotta hit people, you hit people. That’s what you do.”
“That intensity ramps up and that’s just something you have to be ready and prepared for and not surprised by,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said. “But I can flip that around, you look inside our dressing room, we’ve got a lot of guys that have been through it at a high level. Those guys will take care of things inside the dressing room.”
The other coach well aware of the Kraken’s experience level and depth … Colorado’s Jared Bednar.
“Deep team, comes at you in waves, hard working team, highly competitive,” Bednar said Tuesday. “We played them early (season) and then we played them in two back-to-backs, so I didn’t think our energy level was where it could have been. You’re travelling and playing back-to-back in two of those games and they were low scoring games, I think we’ve got a little bit more we can show”