Tonight the Seattle Kraken faceoff against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights. NHL Opening Night is finally here and our Kraken drew their first nationally televised game (the third in the NHL/ESPN’s triple header). Not to be shadowed by the much anticipated debut of rookie Connor Bedard, the Kraken step into a game with huge stakes as the both teams tonight look to set the bar early in this matchup in the desert.
I hate Vegas. Like, HATE this team. Their fans are a joke, their players are obnoxious, and I hate their uniforms. I hate that their arena is nicknamed ‘the fortress’. It’s hilarious when you hear their fans say ‘see you back at the fortress’.
Jon Taffer in the stands is the only good thing about this franchise.
They somehow find a way to stay not only relevant each season, they are one of the best teams year in and year out. Am I a little jealous of their success?
Sure. But I still hate this team. A lot.
Vegas enters this game as one of the early season favorites to win the Cup (+950), while the Kraken are an underdog at +5000. Game 1 should be electric. Let’s take a look at 3 keys to victory for the Seattle Kraken at Vegas Golden Knights.
Seattle’s Killer B’s need to strike
The Seattle Kraken needed to get goals from Matty Beniers, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and André Burakovsky. Beniers is expected to contribute on the score sheet after winning the Calder Trophy last season, for outstanding rookie of the year. As of right now he is the Kraken’s only star and is the face of the franchise. They will go as far as he will take them. He needs to have a big night tonight in front of a national audience.
Bjorkstrand was brought in last season with high expectations after being a hidden gem in Columbus. He was not able to find his scoring touch last season and should get back to being a stud. Tonight, the Kraken will need offensive contributions from Bjorkstrand, and I believe he will be a player overlooked by many. Respect this man.
Burakovsky led the Kraken in scoring last season, while he was healthy. That last part is huge because injuries ruined his season. He returns to pick up where he left off. Burakovsky can be a star in this league if he can stay on the ice.
If these killer B’s all get on the scoreboard tonight, the Kraken should be leaving Las Vegas with their first win of the season.
Light up Aidin Hill!
Grubauer has to be the best player on the ice
Seattle Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer has got to be not only the best player on the ice tonight, but maybe the best player in the NHL. Sounds like a daunting task, considering he is facing off against the defending champs, but last season he shined on the brightest stage (NHL Postseason). If he is able to avoid his regular season struggles that cost him his starting gig at times last season, the Kraken will be in a good position to handle the Vegas attack.
Gru has got to outplay Adin Hill tonight, it’s that simple. Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson are all incredibly fast, smart with the puck, and can score. They will all test the Kraken early in front of their home fans, if Grubauer can keep them off the board early on and settle in, the Kraken will be in great shape. Gru could take the Vegas crowd out of this game with some big saves.
Grubauer in net will be the biggest factor for the Kraken tonight. Let’s go Gru!
The Kraken have to do the little things
Tonight’s game is pretty evenly matched, sans the home ice. The team that wins this game will be the one that takes care of the little things. Winning the grit zone (that 5-foot perimeter from the boards out) is huge. Majority of the game is played in the grit zone. It is physical, it is tough, we need to dominate the grit zone.
Faceoffs will be huge. We got better on faceoffs this offseason with the acquisition of Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, and the return of Burakovsky (he is not a center but he wins the faceoff circle). Vegas is loaded with centers and look for Eichel and Chandler Stephenson, and William Karlsson to be a big presence in the faceoff circle. If we can control the puck, we will win this game.
We have to keep the puck out of the house. The ‘house’ is the zone between the top of the crease and the faceoff circles. Very dangerous area for the opposition to have the puck. High scoring area. If we can play to our strengths and our defense and forwards can keep the puck out of the house (in the defensive zone), we will limit the high quality scoring chances for Vegas and allow Grubauer to make ‘easy’ saves.
The puck drops at 7:30 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, on ESPN+
Fear the Deep!