In the leadup to the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we're starting a new series here at Vegas Hockey Now where we will look at potential teams the Vegas Golden Knights could play in the postseason. While a playoff trip is not yet guaranteed for the VGK, it is much safer to assume this team makes the postseason this year compared to last year.
Standings will fluctuate up until the NHL's last day of the regular season on April 13. So the Golden Knights will not have a set opponent for some time. In the meantime, we can do some speculation on which teams the VGK would match up well against, and which teams they would not.
Today we will look at the Seattle Kraken, who are on pace to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
How it Could Happen: The Edmonton Oilers are emerging as a team likely to finish in a top-three Pacific Playoff spot. This has kicked the Seattle Kraken down to a Wild Card spot. The Golden Knights would likely get home ice no matter what the seeding is.
The most likely matchups could be VGK (P1) v SEA (WC2), VGK (P1) v SEA (WC1), or VGK (P2) v SEA (P3).
2022-23 Season Series: 10/15 VGK 5-1 W, 11/25 4-2 VGK W, 4/11 @ VGK 7:00 p.m., 4/13 @ SEA 7:30 p.m.
Nobody quite expected the Seattle Kraken to make such a leap in just year two of their franchise's existence. After winning just 27 games last season, the Kraken now have nearly 40 wins and will likely make the playoffs for the first time in their history.
The team is scoring by committee, similar to the original Misfit Golden Knights, who also didn't have a singular star player. Vince Dunn, Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle, Yanni Gourde, and Calder-favorite Matty Beniers round out their top five in scoring.
In goal, they have a tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones who haven't been all that spectacular, both with save percentages less than .900, but they are getting the wins. Chris Driedger, Andre Burakovsky, and Joonas Donskoi are currently injured for the Kraken.
At the trade deadline, they stood pat, only adding Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in a minor deal.
In terms of storylines and connections, no current players on either roster have played for both team. However, this matchup would be a fun one given that it is in between the NHL's two most recent expansion teams with Vegas entering in 2017 and Seattle in 2021.
The Golden Knights are the overall better team in this matchup, but that does not mean they should underestimate the Kraken. Golden Knights fans are familiar with the style of "misfit hockey" that the Kraken is playing and as a result, might be the best team prepared to handle them with guys like Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith all knowing what it is like to be on a team like that.
In terms of overall depth, the Golden Knights, on paper, are superior in every facet- offense, defense, and even goaltending in this instance in our opinion.
Sneaky good teams like the Kraken are the ones that can bite you the hardest in the playoffs. Whichever team gets the Kraken in the first round will have to not underestimate them and their long list of scorers.
The Kraken have been streaky all season, recently winning five straight before losing four of five now. If they get hot leading into and even in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it won't be good news for their opponent.
Given that the season series against the Kraken wraps up in the last two games of the season, we will get a good look at what these teams look like right before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Right now, our gut has the Golden Knights sneaking away with this series with it likely going to seven games. But goaltending and depth scoring are once again the biggest question marks we have for the VGK>