The Seattle Kraken face off against the Colorado Avalanche tonight in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Seattle walked away with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4, that tied series at two games a piece. Game 5 is truly a must win for both teams, and the Kraken now have a massive advantage as the Avs will be without star defenseman Cale Makar.
The cheap shot heard round the world that injured 40 goal scorer Jared McCann, ended up costing Makar Game 5, as he will sit with his 1-game suspension. In what feels like either vindication or possibly the hockey gods smiling down on the Kraken, the loss could not have come at a better time for Seattle.
Colorado having ‘limited’ depth behind three of the game’s best players (Makar, MacKinnon, and Rantanen), already appear a bit worn down and will now have to dig deep if they are going to survive Game 5. The focus for the Kraken will be on Matty Beniers and his stellar play the last two games.
Watching Beniers this series, it is hard to fathom that he is only 20 years old and playing in his first NHL season. The kid has been incredible. He has evolved from an elite college player to one of the leagues premier top line centers. He seems to get better each game. It doesn’t seem like any stage is too big for this kid. If the Kraken are going to take advantage of the Makar suspension and take a 3-2 lead in the series, they will need Beniers to lead the way.
He is going to have to not only replace the potential production from McCann’s absence, but he will be leaned heavily on to shut down Nathan MacKinnon. Sure, no problem. This is a statement game for Beniers and the Kraken, and the team needs to look at this as a must win. Take Game 5 and head home to put the Avs away.
Beniers has 1 goal this postseason so that needs to change, tonight.
The Kraken win if…
their fierce forecheck can pressure the Avs into multiple blueline turnovers. We have the horses to do it. Keep doing what has worked for us. The Kraken are at their best when they use their speed and forecheck to suffocate teams. Take advantage of no Makar and turn turnovers into goals.
Grubauer plays lights out. Make this the last game at Ball Arena for the year and shut the Avs out. The revenge series could be over with a huge game tonight.
Yanni Gourde dominates this game. Hitting, checking, penalty kill, running his mouth, faceoff wins, or scoring a goal. He could turn the tide early for the Kraken. Have a game Yanni!
The Avalanche win if…
Mikko Rantanen scores a hat trick. He has been their best player and has dominated this series. He can do it alone. If he scores a ton, he will win this game single handedly. Kraken need to shut him down. Now.
the Kraken shoot themselves in the foot and spend the night in the penalty box. This will neutralize the Makar loss immediately if we can’t stay out of the box. No stupid penalties. No cheap shots. Hit the Avs where it hurts- the scoreboard (channeling my inner Gordon Bombay, sorry).
the team’s ‘depth’ can fill the void left by Makar. It is possible that Bowen Byram steps up or Devon Toews kills it, but the Kraken cannot allow this to happen. If they let these two dudes go off, it could be night night for the Kraken.
Tonight’s game will more or less determine the winner of this series. Expect the Kraken to score early and keep the Avs on their heels throughout the game. Seattle does not want to come back to Colorado for a game 7. The puck drops at 6:30pm PT.
Fear the deep!