The Seattle Sports 5-Year Trends

If you scroll down the right side of my home page (if you are viewing this on a laptop or PC; otherwise it’s at the very bottom of the home page on a mobile device), you’ll see a list of all the Seattle-based teams I follow, and their most recent five seasons’ worth of records. I started doing that a LONG time ago, intending to refer to that information every so often, to take a global view of the Seattle sports landscape. Which teams are on the rise? Which teams are sinking like a stone? And which teams are helplessly treading water?

It’s funny, when I devised of this concept – and then absolutely failed to follow through, until today – I thought five years in sports terms was an adequate amount of time to figure out where a team is going. But, in reality, it’s both an eternity, and no time at all. Sports teams can turn around their fortunes so fast, you might get whiplash with all the wildly disparate outcomes. One year, you might be on top of the world, then you might be among the worst teams in the game, then you’re able to snap right back into being relevant again, coming from out of nowhere.

I would put the Husky football team in this category. Through 2019, you could argue this was a team on the rise. Then, we had the COVID season, followed by a total bottoming out in 2021, with a housecleaning to follow. From there, they snapped right back into being one of the best teams in college football in 2022, only to make it to the National Championship Game in 2023. We have since been confronted with a different sort of housecleaning, unfortunately, and now this looks like a team that’s going to fall. How could it not? We reached a height we haven’t seen since the early 90’s, and we didn’t replace all that we lost with comparable talent; it’s only natural to see a drop-off.

You can also look at the Kraken and even though we don’t have five seasons’ worth of data, we have almost three. They started off bad, then they made the playoffs in year two, only to hover around .500 in year three. Young players haven’t developed into the superstars we hoped for, and everyone on the roster feels like role players. There’s probably going to be a new head coach to come, and we’ll see where we go from here.

On the flipside, you can look at the Husky basketball team and see a team that’s largely been around .500. Five straight years of stagnation, and counting. Part of that has to do with the coaching staff – which has been replaced this offseason – and part of that is the nature of college basketball nowadays. Unless you’re recruiting the best of the best high school players – who can step in and compete right away – you’re not able to develop younger guys like you used to. You just have to hope you’re poaching enough quality in the transfer portal to find the special mixture that will gel immediately.

The NFL is arguably the most volatile sport of the bunch, with teams going from worst to first all the time! And yet, the Seahawks appear to be on a steady decline. Or, at the very least, a decline followed by a flatline. They were 12-game winners (including playoffs) in 2019 and 2020. Then, we had Russell Wilson’s injury-plagued and inconsistent final year here, followed by two years of Geno Smith and some apathetic .500 ball. I can conceive of a future where this is a team on the rise again, but I think we’re going to have to endure another 9-ish win season in the interim.

The only team you could make an argument that’s a team “on the rise” is the Mariners. But, that entirely hinges on what happens in 2024. It’s a franchise with a clear plan, who underwent an obvious rebuild, and who managed to cobble together a pretty good-looking young core. 2019 was terrible. The COVID-shortened 2020 season was better than expected. The 2021 season was better still. In 2022, we finally broke the playoff drought. And, 2023 could conceivably be excused for missing the playoffs, because teams don’t always follow one straight trajectory from year to year. If we make it back to the playoffs in 2024, I think 2023 can be forgiven. At that point, some of the younger prospects still developing in the minors might be ready to take the next step. The Mariners still feel like they’re a few pieces away, and if we have to get them internally, so be it.

So, the last 5 years have been kind of a mixed bag. That’s Seattle sports for ya. Never too high, rarely too low, with lots of unexpected gut punches in between (that only become expected the longer you root for these teams).

The Kraken Signed Vince Dunn To A Big Extension

This is just … SUCH old news, but I’ve been waiting for an opening where I didn’t have anything else to write about.

Anyway, Vince Dunn was signed to a 4-year extension, worth over $7 million per year. That’s a decent chunk of change; indeed, the biggest cap hit on the team next season. He’s a defenseman, coming off of his best year ever, and we avoid an arbitration hearing in the process by locking him up long term.

So, I hopped onto Spotrac to look at the state of things, since I really don’t know much about salary cap in hockey. I don’t know if I was necessarily expecting a huge offseason full of moves, but by the looks of things, the Kraken have less than a million dollars left in cap space. Other than filling in around the margins or minor leagues, I don’t foresee much in the way of free agent signings happening before the start of the season (which is in early October).

It’s interesting, then, to see the approach to building the 2023/2024 team. We’re largely the same as we were in 2022/2023. Which means, we’re kind of banking on this team growing organically. Young guys like Beniers making the leap in his second full season in the NHL, Andre Burakovsky staying healthy for the duration, and everyone just sort of gelling as this team without a mega-star, but lots of really solid dudes playing their specific roles perfectly.

And, if we look ahead, 10 out of our top 11 contracts are signed through 2025; only Jordan Eberle’s deal expires after this upcoming season among the most important Kraken players. I think that’s pretty great, as the Kraken build off of their first-ever playoff run. Having this kind of cohesion is vital for a hockey team.

It’s also, I think, valuable for the Kraken to be built this way – no mega-studs, lots of good, solid pros – if they’re going to continue to supplement through the draft. We don’t necessarily need to draft guys and play them right away. We can wait until they’re ready. And, when they are ready, we can bring them along slowly until they get their feet wet. It’s not like in other sports, where you’re largely throwing guys to the wolves right out of the gate.

I should point out that nothing the Kraken have done so far precludes them from making improvements via trade (other than the fact that Grubauer has a no-trade clause, and a number of other guys have modified no-trade clauses). I think that was on the minds of prognosticators heading into this offseason as a likely possibility, though I’m not aware of anything coming down the pike just yet. We’ll see.

If the team we have is the team we have, I won’t be upset. I think there’s natural growth to be had from the players already on our roster. I also don’t see why Grubauer couldn’t parlay a very good playoff run into further regular season success. He’s done it before! Maybe as the team around him continues to improve, it’ll unlock his natural ability to be a stone wall for us.

Things Have Been Happening In Krakenland

There’s a lot I don’t know about hockey, so I don’t find it super helpful to write an update when every little thing happens. Here’s a recap of a bunch of those little things that have happened since the end of the season.

The loathesome Vegas Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup, coming as no surprise. Just by eye test, they looked like the best team this year (even though Boston had an amazing regular season run). One more reason why I’ll be rooting like mad against them for the foreseeable future!

The NHL Draft happened. The Kraken didn’t pick until 20, and went with forward Eduard Sale. The sense I get from reading on the subject, we probably won’t see him for 2-3 years, depending on how he develops. I thought it was interesting that the Kraken had double digit draft picks this year, but didn’t really do much in trade. I wondered if they might package some and move up in the first round – where it’s less of a blind dart throw – but the Kraken were content to continue bolstering their minor leagues. We’ll see how this strategy pays off in the coming years.

Free agency has started, and one of the first bits of news was a little sad. One of my favorite lower line guys, Morgan Geekie, as well as Daniel Sprong, were non-tendered, and therefore released. I’m not sure of the rationale behind it, but I imagine the cost of bringing them back wasn’t something the organization felt comfortable with.

There’s been a flurry of smaller free agent signings – too soon to tell what their roles will be, but it sounds like a lot of them will go to the minors – but one semi-interesting one is a 2-year deal with defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who is a 10-year vet out of Pittsburgh. We’re not talking huge money here, so I don’t know what kind of difference-maker he’s going to be on this team. But, hopefully he’s good where it counts (on defense) because this team needs a lot of help on that side of the ice.

Then, the Kraken signed a young winger in Kailer Yamamoto, who has 6 seasons of experience with Edmonton. He seems like an under-the-radar solid signing, who should fit in nicely with the collection we’ve got at the NHL level. We’ll see where he has room to grow, because he’ll only be 25 in September.

Probably the biggest news so far involves the re-signing of Will Borgen and Cale Fleury, as well as Kole Lind (all three were tendered, and signed contracts to avoid arbitration). Borgen was the most important of the three; he really showed out in the playoffs this year.

The biggest one we’re waiting on is Vince Dunn, who was the fourth player we tendered an offer to. He was pretty damn important to our success last year, and it’ll be great to have him back in the fold.

To my knowledge, the Kraken still have a good amount of money to play around with. And they can also still work in trade to make some improvements, but I dunno. We’ll see. They seem to be content with this slow build. Have a deep team, consistent throughout their four lines, and develop through the draft in hopes that those players pop into superstars.

We clearly need more if we want to compete in 2024, but by all accounts this isn’t the best free agent class ever. So we’ll see.

The Kraken Couldn’t Get By The Stars In Game 7

That was a crazy last two games by the Kraken! Every time you think they’re dead, they somehow come back to life. Until they finally didn’t; until it all became too much.

Game 6 on Saturday was in the running for the Kraken’s best game of the entire playoffs. We were back home, on the brink of elimination, and finally managed to turn up the intensity after meekly losing the previous two games. We scored six goals from five different players, we knocked out their goalie in the second period, and we kept up the pressure for the full 60 minutes (scoring 2 goals in each period). Grubauer was good enough, resulting in a 6-3 victory.

That led to last night’s Game 7 – back in Dallas – where it was everything I’ve come to expect from a Game 7 in the NHL playoffs. Extremely intense. Low scoring. Hard hitting. Power plays few and far between. Unfortunately for the Kraken, we just didn’t have that magic to power through, losing 2-1.

One person stands out above everyone else in this game, and that’s Philipp Grubauer. He was a STUD. Dallas reclaimed their edge from the opening puck drop, and never relinquished it until it was far too late. They were in our zone and throwing up shot after shot after shot all game long. The stats will tell you they had 28 official shots on goal, but I’m here to tell you there was at least double that. There was a point in the second period where it was like Grubauer was a UFC figher on his back taking a repeated barrage of blows, yet he somehow held strong. It wasn’t until a puck annoyingly got by one of our guys, leading to a one-on-one situation that Grubauer STILL almost managed to block.

We went into the final period down 1-0, but we still couldn’t manage any sort of offensive consistency. Everything we dumped into their zone was immediately ejected. We allegedly took 23 shots on goal, but it felt like a quarter of that. Whatever we managed to direct towards the goal was right in the goalie’s breadbasket. Except for the two shots that clanged loudly off the bar.

The diameter of the metal tube frame of a hockey goal is roughly 2 inches. We had two phenomenal scoring opportunities that hit squarely on the wrong half of that frame. Between that and the Herculean effort by Grubauer, that’s how close the Kraken came to moving to the Western Conference Finals.

The Stars took advantage of another Kraken mistake midway through the third to take a 2-0 lead. It felt insurmountable – and indeed, it was – but it still led to some exciting hockey in the closing minutes.

Down two scores, we went without a goalie for the last three minutes and change. Most of that time was spent trying to corral the puck, while avoiding a couple of juicy empty-net opportunities by the Stars. Finally, with less than 20 seconds left in regulation, Oliver Bjorkstrand flipped one up and over the shoulder of the goalie to make it 2-1. Even when it was at its most hopeless, the Kraken still managed to stage a comeback. In spite of our inability to cleanly win any faceoffs, we still dumped into their zone, and fired off a near-miss with precious few seconds remaining. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but it sure was exciting.

Everything that everyone’s writing about is all the same. What a fun season. What an amazing turnaround from year 1 to year 2. The Kraken went further in the playoffs than anyone had any right to expect.

The Kraken are just getting started.

It’s cliche, but it’s also true. That was … wonderful! My instinct in these situations – when my team’s season has just ended – is to look ahead to next year, and pontificate on the possibilities of going even further. How do we get there? What moves do we need to make to take the next steps in our progression? How do we one day (soon) win the Stanley Cup?

Those are important and fun questions to ask – especially when you run your own blog – but sometimes you need to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes you need to appreciate something great that just happened. The Kraken treated us to a winning season of hockey, two rounds of playoffs, and two game seven performances for the ages. They exceeded expectations, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here. We’re already THIS close to contending for the Western Conference Finals, and most of our core guys are already signed on for next season.

What a great time to be a hockey fan in Seattle!

On a personal note, now that I’m settled into my home, and have my sports-viewing situation figured out, I look forward to being more engaged on a weekly basis next season. There won’t be months between Kraken posts (at least, when the games start up again; there WILL be months between Kraken posts in the offseason).

But, I’ll say this, as a fair-weather fan, I needed this. I needed the Kraken to go on an enjoyable playoff run. I needed them to win a series and look good against quality opponents. I’ve watched more hockey in the last month than I’ve watched in my entire life before this! It’s everything I could’ve asked for, and I’m excited for what’s to come in the future.

The 2023/2024 season is going to be off the chain!

The Kraken Are On The Brink Of Elimination

That’s back-to-back games now where the Kraken have looked inferior in every possible way.

The way the Stars’ top line is dominating this series, it got me to thinking. We’ve been endlessly praising how deep the Kraken are throughout the playoffs. They’re four lines strong! They can keep sending wave after wave of quality player at you! But, you know what they don’t have? When the chips are down, the Kraken don’t have that elite, top-shelf player or line that can carry you over the hump, or drag you back from the brink.

Now, it’s true, you don’t necessarily want to be too overly reliant on that top line, or that top player, to the detriment of the rest of your roster. But, the Kraken are a little lacking in superstars, and I think it’s biting them in the ass this series.

Maybe Matty Beniers will turn into that player one day. Maybe that other high draft pick will be someone of note. But, we don’t have that person on this roster right now, and it’s costing us the playoffs.

The Kraken lost 5-2 last night, two days after being blown out 6-3. The Stars got two extremely quick goals in the first period, and took a 3-0 lead inside the first minute of the second period. Adam Larsson got one right back, and later in the period Jared McCann slammed one home to make it 3-2.

This game was interesting for a little while after that, but midway through the final frame, the Stars made it 4-2, before scoring an empty-netter late to put it away.

I didn’t think Grubauer looked particularly competent in this one. Those first two Stars goals looked mighty easy. Then again, I just think the Stars are the better team, and they’ve looked that way in all but one of the games. In a way, it’s kind of impressive we made it this far, but I think this series is all but over. They’re just too talented, and it forces the Kraken to be absolutely perfect if they want to win a game.

We were able to be perfect once, and I think we were lucky to come away from Game 1 with an overtime victory, but to do so throughout a 7-game series is a pretty big ask.

There have been a lot of firsts this season for the Kraken. First playoff appearance, first playoff victory, first overtime playoff game, first Game 7, first series win, and now we’re heading into our first elimination game from the other side. Backs against the wall, we’ll get to see how the Kraken respond, in our home building no less! Should be fun. I hope the Kraken at least put on a good show in what figures to be our final go around the ice.

The Kraken Were Thoroughly Defeated To Even The Series

Well, the Kraken let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. You win last night, you take a 3-1 lead and all but punch your ticket to the Western Conference Finals. Instead, the series is tied 2-2, and we’re in a 3-game series (just like we were in round one).

With their backs against the wall, the Stars didn’t mess around. They got the jump on us in the first period – taking a 1-0 lead – before exploding for another 4 goals in the second to take a 5-1 lead into the final frame, and prematurely end Grubauer’s night.

This was yet another game where Grubauer was under constant attack. I’m not saying he had the best game in the world, though it did look like he brought his lunch pail and went to work in the first period. I think the overwhelming pressure of the Stars’ attack finally got the better of him. It also didn’t help that the refs allowed an annoying bit of Goalie Interference on one of their scores, but that’s neither here nor there.

I was impressed with how the Kraken responded in the third period. We could’ve packed it in like the Stars did in the previous game, but we showed a lot of fight! Indeed, we scored early, and with a little over 4 minutes left, we scored again to make it 5-3. That, at the very least, gave us a few minutes of pulling the goalie for some rousing 6-5 action. Except, the Stars eventually got control of the puck and broke away for an empty netter that made it 6-3 and ended our fun.

Jaden Schwartz had our first two goals, and Adam Larsson had the third; too little, too late. We did see the return of Jared McCann, which was nice, though he had a pretty quiet game.

What can I say? We out-hit them savagely once again, and they only narrowly beat us in faceoffs. But, they had three power plays and they scored on two of them. We had two power plays and didn’t even come close to sniffing a goal. I hate to keep harping on this – because it’s an every-single-game occurrence – but maybe we need to institute a new power play lineup? If you wanted to know the difference in these two power play attacks, there was a prime opportunity to see it in real time. The Kraken were fumbling away a power play for a solid minute before they too got dinged with a penalty. After a minute of 4-on-4 action (which also went nowhere; we’ve yet to score on ANY 4-on-4 situation in the playoffs), the Stars were granted their minute of power play, and they probably scored inside of 10 seconds. It couldn’t have been easier for them! Meanwhile, all the Kraken do on their own power plays is pick goobers.

Thursday’s game is vital. Gotta go ahead 3-2, or I fear for our playoff lives.

The Kraken Blew Out The Stars In Game 3

I guess the Kraken really benefitted from the extra day off between games!

Game 3, in some ways, represented an amalgam of the first two. There was a scoreless first period – as there was last Thursday in Dallas. And, there was a period where the scoring just exploded – as there was last Tuesday in Dallas. But, unlike those games, the Kraken never let the Stars get their footing.

Unlike in Game 2, the scoreless first period last night felt a little more even. It didn’t seem like the Kraken were lucky to have shut them out for 20 minutes. Everything felt a little more in control, as if we had a plan on how to defend them and take them out of their game. Shots were few and far between, but also evenly distributed. Faceoffs weren’t one-sided. No penalties. But, still lots of good, hard hits. It was as clean of a period as I’ve ever seen.

Then, from the second period onward, it was total annihilation.

The Kraken put up two goals in the first three and a half minutes, then continued the scoring barrage midway through the period, scoring two more within two minutes of one another, before the Stars finally got one back. However, just before the second break, the Kraken made some nifty long-distance passes to get a fifth score in the books.

At 5-1, the Stars ended up pulling their goalie ahead of the third period. No matter, the Kraken continued to pour it on, ending the game up 7-2.

Seven different Kraken players scored: Jordan Eberle (getting the rebound off of a Stars’ player’s face, right in front of the net, in a nasty bit of bad luck for them), Alex Wennberg, Carson Soucy (in a nifty bit of puck handling to take it to the net himself before shooting it past Oettinger), Matty Beniers, Eeli Tolvanen, Yanni Gourde (short-handed, early in the third), and Justin Schultz.

There was also some really strong play by Grubauer in this one, saving 92.3%. He continues to pick his game up for the playoffs and has been our rock throughout.

You could really feel the advantage the Kraken have in being such a deep team. But, it also looked like we made some adjustments to neutralize their attack. I don’t know what any of this means going forward; I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Did we unlock a magic key to taking the Stars out? Or, was it just one game, and tomorrow will look a lot different? I tend to believe the latter.

What’s not in doubt is the fact that this series – at worst – will go six games. That means, of course, we’ll at least have two more home games to try to punch our ticket to the Western Conference Finals. Of course, there’s the slim possibility we win out, and this doesn’t get to six games; but that’s a good problem to have.

Also, not for nothing, but Jared McCann was seen practicing over the weekend for the first time since his brutal injury against the Avalanche. I think Geoff Baker confirmed it was a concussion (though I don’t know if the team actually reported that or not), which makes sense. You gotta be careful with that kind of injury in hockey. There was rumbling McCann might be ready to return tomorrow, which would be interesting. Tye Kartye has been more than capable in taking over for McCann, so we’ll see what happens if/when McCann returns.

The Kraken Laid An Egg In Game 2

That was as much of a dismantling as you can get with a 4-2 defeat.

I didn’t have the best feeling going into this one, so I kinda had my attention split and was only half following along. But, the scoreless first period was somewhat encouraging, even though the Stars were on it from the jump. The Kraken weathered that storm, and maybe they’d pick it up going forward.

But, it was just the opposite. The Stars scored 3 goals to our 1 in the second period (a nifty goal by newcomer Tye Kartye), then went up 4-1 before we scored late to make it respectable (a 5 on 5 goal by Jordan Eberle before a fruitless pulled-goalie portion to end it).

We now have two games under our belt. There was that Kraken barrage in the first period of game one, where we somehow scored 4 times; since then, we’ve scored 3 times in the subsequent five periods plus overtime. If I’m the Kraken, I feel lucky to have a victory under my belt. As an outsider, I don’t know if I feel great about the rest of this series. The eye test alone leads me to believe the Stars are just the better team. But, I kinda thought that about Colorado as well, and look how that turned out. The next game should be very telling, because if we look the same as we have the last five periods, it’s not going to be pretty.

The Stars outshot the Kraken 37-27 (that disparity was a lot worse until the very end, when we had a 6-on-5 advantage). They won 44 faceoffs to our 20! That’s over 2/3; unacceptable. They had triple the power play opportunities (including one really dumb penalty by the Kraken that led to one of the Stars’ goals, where the guy literally just tackled him near the net, like he was in a wrestling match).

More than anything, the Kraken just couldn’t get into a groove offensively. It wasn’t even elite goalie play; it was the entire Stars team taking control and never relenting.

That was as humdrum of a game as you’ll see by the Kraken. Some people online were positing that the Kraken were tired, which I get. That’s three road games in a row – dating back to game 7 in Colorado – and they’ve been away from Seattle for damn near a full week. But, of course, that’s no excuse. The best case scenario is this was just a loss to a really good team, who was never going to get beaten twice in a row on their home ice. Now we get two full days off to recover, before Game 3 at home on Sunday.

Time to flush that game and move onto the next.

The Kraken Kicked Off Round 2 With An Overtime Win

That game was absolutely bonkers. Right off the bat, we saw this wouldn’t be the same as our first round series vs. Colorado, when for the first time all playoffs, the Kraken didn’t score first. The Stars’ goal came almost disturbingly quick and easy, which left me with a really bad feeling.

We tied it up approximately halfway through the first period, and my nerves started to calm down. But, that just initiated a massive flurry of goals that saw the Kraken almost immediately go back down 2-1, only to wrap up the scoring barrage a few minutes later with the Kraken UP 4-2.

Jaden Schwartz got us started, Justin Schultz re-tied it at 2, Oliver Bjorkstrand continued his blistering run with goal #3, and Jordan Eberle capped it off for the period. I was beginning to wonder if this would turn into a Kraken rout!

The second period was much more sane, with no goals scored on either end. That proved to be pivotal, as the Kraken maintained their 2-goal advantage heading into the final frame.

But, then Joe Pavelski took over. He accounted for both Dallas goals in the first period, finished off the hat trick midway through the third, and then tied it at 4-4 a few minutes later with his fourth goal of the night. I don’t know what they call it when a guy makes 4 goals in a single game, but it was damned impressive. I want to say at least three of them were off of deflections, where he was stationed right in front of the goalie and gently nudging the puck onto a slightly different trajectory into the back of the net.

If that’s their game – if they’re just going to score on these batshit deflections all the time – I think it’s going to be tough for the Kraken to maintain. How do you stop that?! It seems like luck, but I’m sure this is a skill he’s honed over decades of practice. Grubauer looks like he’s got an incredibly difficult job ahead of him this series!

We’ll see if we can keep up with our scoring. Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger looked like he was dead in the water in the first period, but he really clamped down nicely the final two frames. It took quite a bit of work for the Kraken to get the game-winner in overtime; Yanni Gourde taking the rebound and shooting it in.

I was SURE – as soon as the Stars tied it in the third – that we’d go on to lose that game, and I’d be throwing up my hands in defeat. As it is, I can’t say I feel great about the rest of the series, but I’ll never stop being impressed by the Kraken’s ability to overcome adversity and change the game’s momentum in a blink of an eye. Nothing phases this team! They really do look like a team that’s playing with nothing to lose.

Game 2 on Thursday, before we return home. Game 3 doesn’t start until Sunday, so that gives us a little extra rest and home cooking, after being on the road for so long between Colorado and Dallas.

The Kraken Advanced Past Colorado In A Thrilling Game 7

To give you a little peek behind the curtain at what I do here – since I don’t like to update this blog on weekends, or write multiple posts in a day – I decided that if the Kraken lost their series to Colorado, I’d write about the rest of the Seahawks’ draft over the weekend. If they won, however, I’d be here bright and early on Monday morning celebrating more hockey in Seattle.

Well, here we are! Spoiler alert: the Kraken won!

Since I don’t write on weekends, I didn’t have to get on here and muse about the abysmal defeat at home on Friday. That was just a brutal, hapless 4-1 defeat where – even though the Kraken scored first, as they did in every single game that series – they never seemed to even be in it, let alone in any sort of driver’s seat. That was a pounding we never really experienced before. I would say even in the 6-4 defeat the previous Saturday (also at home, making our two biggest losses both in our home arena), we put up some fight. But, Friday’s game was a total dismantling on all fronts. The Avalanche were the aggressors, they dominated in faceoffs, they dominated in power plays, they dominated defensively, and they dominated on the boards. It truly looked like the Kraken thought they could just show up, vibe with the crowd, and win by doing little else.

If the Avs had that in them all along – and played that way from the onset – this series would’ve been over in 4 games.

Last night, it looked like our Cinderella season would come to an end. The entire first period looked like an extension of the previous game; the Kraken were sleepwalking through their final moments. The Avs severely out-shot us, and even though Grubauer had some nice stops in there, we were lucky not to be down 1 or 2 goals heading into the first break. One very clearly hit the top of Gru’s stick that otherwise should’ve been an easy score.

Somehow, we parlayed that scoreless first into a much-improved second period where we went up 2-0 before giving one back just before the end. Oliver Bjorkstrand had both scores – and could’ve very well had up to three more in the course of the game, with a number of opportunities slamming into the crossbar, or otherwise miraculously saved by Georgiev – and the team in general seemed to move the puck more freely into the Colorado zone. It would’ve been really nice to have a two-goal lead heading into the final period, but having any lead at all felt like a minor miracle.

The Kraken were lucky the game wasn’t tied up early in the third. The Avs did, indeed, score a goal, but it turned out to be fraudulent, as for the second time this series, one of their goals was taken off the board after a replay review showed the Avs were offsides. You know what I learned this week? That you can challenge in hockey, but if you lose, you have to play a man down as a penalty. Isn’t that great?! Don’t you kinda wish they’d do that in football?

After that gift, the Kraken really clamped down defensively, and were able to still get the puck into the opposing end of the ice with regularity to efficiently kill time. We endured the last few minutes of 6 on 5, and that was that. Stunned silence in Colorado, as the reigning champs were taken out.

There’s nothing quite like leaving a team like that wondering just how in the hell they lost that series to a team like the Kraken. I don’t think they took us seriously until it was too late, and ultimately they didn’t have enough magic to move past us. Also, I mean, when you’re so reliant on one very potent line – that has to play as many minutes as they do for you to succeed – I don’t think that bodes well for long-term success. The Avs repeating as champs seemed like the longest of long shots.

This sets us up for a series with the Dallas Stars starting tomorrow. If you’ll recall, we very nearly played the Stars in the first round, until Colorado won their division on the last day of the regular season. Dallas ended up taking out the Minnesota Wild in six games (after being down 2-1 in the series), so this figures to be a pretty tough opponent as well. I can’t wait to learn all about this new team in the coming days!