The NHL season is approaching its midway point, although after dozens of games were postponed due to Covid over the past month, the table is looking messy, so all is not quite as it seems.
Because of this, every team still has a mathematical chance of qualifying for the postseason. But as Covid has ravaged preparation and squads, struggling teams just want to end their losing streak before focusing on a second half of the season run into the playoffs.
That brings us to the Kraken, who haven’t won in over a month.
Team Focus: Seattle Kraken
A nine-match losing streak and only two wins since the start of December, Seattle’s initial excitement at having an NHL team for the first time in nearly 100 years has turned into an expansion season nightmare.
There has been a pattern of recent cruelty too, as the team has lost multiple leads to a third period collapse. A reminder of that will come to the fore when they host St Louis Blues on Friday, having surrendered a one-goal lead heading into the third period to the same opponents last Thursday.
Kraken are now halfway to the record NHL losing streak of 18 games, set by the 2003–04 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2020–21 Buffalo Sabres. Kraken don’t look like a team that will post numbers of that scale and with 24 points, only have the third worst record in the NHL this season.
Their recent troubles can be attributed in part to a struggling offense, hit by long-term injuries to Brandon Tanev and Jaden Schwartz. Can they put an end to their losing streak in any of their four games this week?
Stats to Savour
Montreal Canadiens haven’t won a match in regular time in their last 15 attempts. Last season’s Stanley Cup runners-up are in a race for the bottom with the Coyotes, who they play on Monday.
— Montreal Gazette (@mtlgazette) January 17, 2022
Both teams have a goal difference that is around 33% worse than anyone else in the NHL. Their toothless offenses have disastrously curtailed their hopes for the season, while they are also the two worst teams on power play (Canadiens 11%, Coyotes 13.5%).
This one is difficult to call with the Canadiens at +150.
At the other end of the standings Colorado Avalanche have won nine of their last 10 to catapult to the top of the Western Conference. They host the Wild having won their last three matches at home to the Wild by at least two goals. They are +117 to do so again.
Player to Watch: Auston Matthews
Maple Leafs’ center Matthews is on a hot streak with seven points in his last five games, coming after a stunning December when he posted 10 goals in seven games. His recent streak of scoring in nine consecutive away games broke the record for the longest away game goal streak in Toronto Maple Leafs history.
He’s also on pace for a 60-goal season, which has never been done in Maple Leaf history, although he has been on similar pace in the last two seasons and failed to beat Rick Vaive’s 54-goal season.
Facing high-flying Rangers on Wednesday is a good test for two teams with postseason ambitions. Matthews has been decisive with four gaming-winning goals this season, and could be the difference again.