Kraken’s Inaugural Schedule Features Challenging Second Half

The Seattle Kraken‘s inaugural season begins just two months from now and continues through, at least, April 2022. Below I break down the team’s regular season schedule on a monthly basis, highlighting key games, difficult stretches, and reunions between select Kraken players and their former clubs.

October: Five-Game Road Trip to Open the Season

The Kraken begin their inaugural season with a five-game road trip, while the finishing touches are put on Climate Pledge Arena. The 2021-22 regular season begins with an Oct. 12 double-header between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins, followed by the Vegas Golden Knights versus the Kraken. In one storyline, Vegas and Seattle clash in a matchup of the league’s two newest teams. Seattle will look to match the Knights’ astonishing early success in 2017-18; they won their first-ever game and began the season with an 8-1-0 record.

In another storyline, the Golden Knights will look a little different from the past couple of seasons. Trade acquisition Evgeny Dadonov will be skating on the wing, and Robin Lehner will serve as the number-one goaltender now that Marc-André Fleury is with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Robin Lehner Vegas Golden Knights Seattle Kraken
Vegas Golden Knights Robin Lehner will start in goal for the home opener against the Seattle Kraken (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Kraken will continue their road trip by traveling to Nashville, Columbus, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils games mark the first of 15 back-to-back instances for Seattle.

After the long trip, the team will have three full days off until their Oct. 23 home opener. Going up against them are their geographic rival, the Vancouver Canucks, who have heavily re-tooled with the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. The Kraken’s next opponent is the Montreal Canadiens, last season’s Stanley Cup finalist. With both games, it will be interesting to see the presence of Canadian fans who have crossed the international border.

Summary: Seattle may have a lengthy road trip to start the season, but they end up with a favorable month. It closes October with four straight home games and, in total, plays just four games against 2021 Stanley Cup Playoff teams.

November: Season-High Six-Game Home Stand

November presents one of the tougher months for Seattle. Although seven of their 13 games are at home, eight November matchups are against 2021 playoff teams.

Six of the seven November home games come as part of a Nov. 11-24 home stand. The tail end of that begins a challenging stretch that lasts from Nov. 19-27. Seattle will play host to the Colorado Avalanche, Washington Capitals, and Carolina Hurricanes before starting a road trip in Tampa, and then Sunrise (home of the Florida Panthers). Those teams finished the following order in the 2020-21 overall standings — tied for first, tied for fifth, third, tied for eighth, and fourth, respectively.

Yanni Gourde Tampa Bay Lightning Seattle Kraken
Yanni Gourde, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

A handful of notable Kraken will face their former teams for the first time as well. Here are the ones to look out for this month:

Summary: November is an exciting month with a daunting five-game stretch. Seattle’s results against the eight playoff teams will help gauge whether or not the league’s 32nd team can complete for a spot in the postseason. The return of players like Grubauer and Gourde to their former teams’ arenas will be something to watch as well.

December: Seven Games Versus Pacific Division

December is one of the two home-heavy months for the Kraken, as nine of their scheduled 14 games are at Climate Pledge Arena. Seven of them are against Pacific Division opponents, giving Seattle ample opportunity to bank points. Opponents like the Canucks and Los Angeles Kings have upgraded significantly in the offseason; however, only two from the typical Pacific group made the playoffs last season. There are just five December matchups are against 2021 playoff teams.

Two games particularly stand out in this month. On Monday, Dec. 6, Seattle will host the Pittsburgh Penguins. Likely fan favorite Brandon Tanev will face off against his former team, as will Jared McCann. McCann was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs this past offseason after 141 games with the Penguins, and was then selected by Seattle in the expansion draft. The most notable contest is December 23 at Calgary. Mark Giordano will return to the Scotiabank Saddledome where he spent 15 seasons and, in 2019, won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

Calgary Flames Mark Giordano Seattle Kraken
Mark Giordano captained the Flames from 2013 to 2021 (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Summary: Giordano’s return to Calgary is the marquee match in a relatively easy December. The combination of home games and divisional matchups — with none coming against the Golden Knights — could result in Seattle climbing the division standings after a more difficult November.

January & February: A Gauntlet Against 2021 Playoff Teams

I have grouped February with January, as the league has scheduled a three-week hiatus for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The good news for the Kraken is that they play 10 home games these two months, with nine of them coming in January. That said, out of their 19 combined games, 11 of them are against 2021 playoff teams; only four contests come against division opponents.

Seattle also faces one of their tougher stretches from January 21 through February 1. They start with home games against the St Louis Blues, Panthers, and Predators. From there, they head on a road trip to face the Penguins, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, and Boston Bruins.

A few notable Kraken players will also face their former clubs for the first time. This group features, in particular, a couple of recent Stanley Cup winners:

Jaden Schwartz St. Louis Blues Seattle Kraken
Jaden Schwartz played 10 seasons for the St. Louis Blues and will face his former club for the first time on January 13, 2022. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Summary: January may be a home-heavy month for the Kraken, but it is filled with tough opponents. The final stretch at Eastern Conference arenas could be Seattle’s most difficult test on the road this season. In addition to ending their trip in Boston, they begin the post-Olympic period against, who else, the Bruins (in Seattle).

March: Season-High Nine Road Games

Seattle will play nine of its 13 scheduled March games on the road. Their March 5-12 road trip is tied for the team’s longest jaunt away from home. Four March games are against divisional opponents, and seven of them come against 2021 playoff teams.

Seattle faces one more challenging stretch, primarily against 2021 playoff teams, from March 2-16. They begin at home against Nashville then travel to Washington, Carolina, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. Once they return home, they have the defending champion Lightning waiting for them.

Summary: Seattle may have an uphill battle going into the final month of the season, taking into account not only March, but also January and February. They may be able to stay toward the top of the division earlier in the season, but don’t count them as a playoffs shoo-in.

April: Four Back-to-Backs

April presents the Kraken with four back-to-backs, the most of any month. However, there are two silver linings for Seattle this month. First, there are no back-to-backs in which both opponents were in last year’s playoffs. Second, only five of their 14 April games are against 2021 playoff teams. The games are split between seven at home and seven on the road.

Travis Green Vancouver Canucks bench Seattle Kraken
The Seattle Kraken’s game against the Vancouver Canucks on April 26, 2022 may have playoff implications for both teams. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Four of the last five games could be particularly interesting in that these opponents may be battling for playoff spots — the Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, Canucks, and Kings. Teams in this situation typically play their best hockey at this point and, should they get on a roll, can ride that momentum into the postseason; the Kraken may be one of these teams. In particular, the two penultimate games against the Canucks and Kings could directly determine which of these three teams advances to the postseason, and which team(s) trade in their hockey sticks for golf clubs.

Closing Thoughts

The best advantage the Kraken have in their inaugural season is the weak Pacific Division. If they can win a majority of their six divisional games in April, and teams like the Canucks and Kings fare poorly against the stronger Central, then they may secure a playoff berth.

That said, Seattle will also need to take advantage of a relatively easy first three months. This portion of the schedule is largely home-heavy and, with the exception of that November 19-27 stretch, does not feature a multitude of intimidating opponents. Nonetheless, the real test for this team will come in the second half of the season — in which they will have to face more 2021 playoff teams, survive two challenging road trips, and come out victorious in their last divisional matchups.