Kraken Need More From Top Line to Keep Series in Reach

As the Seattle Kraken prepare for Game 4 of their series against the Colorado Avalanche, they’ll need to start digging a little deeper to try and even this series back up. Through three games, the Kraken trail 2-1 and have lost two straight after opening with a win.

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While they’ve been able to keep pace offensively, eventually, they’ll need some help from their top players. Through three games, the top line of Matty Beniers, Jared McCann, and Jordan Eberle has combined for just three points. The depth scoring has been part of their identity all season, but eventually, it might be up to the stars to push the team forward.

Life From Top Line in Game 3

The combined points from the top line all came on the goal that tied Game 3 up at three. It was the first sign of life from an otherwise silent group, and that’s a far cry from the type of production they had in the regular season. A three-game stretch is a much smaller sample size, but clearly, they’re struggling to work through the matchups early in the playoffs.

Matty Beniers Seattle Kraken
Matty Beniers, Seattle Kraken (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The brief offensive burst from the line came just 19 seconds after a Jamie Oleksiak tally and brought the crowd to life when it appeared that the Avalanche had successfully dampened the mood. It was Beniers’ first career playoff goal, and should hopefully be a sign of things to come. Perhaps this goal could lift some pressure off of the trio, and if that’s the case, the Kraken will be in a much better position to draw even.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Kraken’s 6-4 Loss to the Avalanche in Game 3

In the three games played, the line currently carries a 57.1% Corsi, indicating they’re outshooting the opponent when on the ice, but the chances they’re generating aren’t as dangerous. That’s reflected in their 43.7% expected goals, which suggests the opponent finds better chances despite being outshot.

If they’re to find any success in the remainder of this series, they’re going to have to turn those shots into better chances. Getting to high-danger areas will be key to getting more out of them, and will inherently help the Kraken’s chances of upsetting the Avalanche.

Depth Keeping Kraken Afloat

With the top line running quiet, the depth players have picked up the slack to keep the Kraken on the board. This isn’t exactly a new development, as they posted some of the best scoring numbers in the league this season. That said, it’s still a welcome sight for the team as they continue to play the Avalanche tight.

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So far in the series, the Kraken have found offense throughout the lineup, with goals coming from the second, third, and fourth lines and offensive production from their bottom defensive pair. Currently, Justin Schultz leads the team in playoff scoring with four points, and Jaden Schwartz leads the team with two goals.

Jaden Schwartz Carson Soucy Seattle Kraken
Jaden Schwartz, left, celebrates with Carson Soucy, right, of the Seattle Kraken after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period in Game 3 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

In a perfect world, this production continues even if the top line comes alive. Ultimately, it’s up to these lines to work the matchup to their benefit, as they might be able to take advantage of a lower line from the Avalanche. They’re doing the bulk of the work so far, but it can’t just be up to them to carry the team.

Top Line Can Help Even Series

The Avalanche are a very good team, and to beat them in the playoffs, teams have to throw everything they have at them. With that in mind, the Kraken are in need of a boost to help push them above and beyond. A successful top line doesn’t just help the mindset of the team, but it also gives them enough of a chance of keeping pace with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

The fact that they’re keeping things close without their top players producing is impressive in itself, but it would have been even more impressive if they headed back to Colorado with the series tied. There’s still a lot of time left in this series, and the Kraken will need everyone to be firing on all cylinders if they’re to go the distance against one of the league’s best.

Corsi and Expected Goals courtesy of MoneyPuck