Coming back with a clinch

Seattle Kraken makes playoffs for first time

Uriah Aguon, staff writer

The Seattle Kraken secured a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on April 7, 2023, bringing their record to 43-26-8 with two weeks remaining in the regular season. This win was not only the Kraken’s second over the Coyotes and their third of that week, but it also clinched a spot in the playoffs for the 2023 Stanley Cup in only their second year of existence in the National Hockey League.

The Kraken also made NHL history by securing 96 season points thus far, the most obtained by an expansion team since the start of the NHL in the Original Six Era. Making the playoffs is also a substantial turnaround from their previous inaugural season, in which the Kraken finished last with a 27-49-6 record. They are also Seattle’s first to compete for the Stanley Cup since 1920. 

Sophomore international business and marketing major Nathalie Chishungu attended the Kraken-Coyotes game with low expectations but was happy to be proven wrong.

“My predictions for the game were that we were going to lose. I do understand that the Arizona Coyotes aren’t one of the best teams of the season, but I have also seen the Kraken totally fumble games when they’re close to breaking a record.” Chishungu said. “I was very proud of them because it was a very stressful game for me, especially because I’d seen them on defense for a good amount of the game, which was not great, because I’ve seen them in that position before, and we lost for it, so I’m very happy that I was wrong.”

Starting center for the Kraken Matt Beniers recalled predicting the Kraken’s turnaround at the end of last season.

“I said it last year. I said we’re going to make playoffs [next] year to [Eberle],” Beniers said. “There was a lot that went on this year, and every guy was huge in this [happening].”

Chishungu thinks the Kraken are capable of making a mini run when playoff time comes around.

“I really hope the Kraken can win, but I know how hard that’s going to be, considering how good all the other teams are,” Chishungu said. “I’m convinced we’ll make it to the semi-finals, but like I said, that’s going to be really hard.”

The Kraken’s starting right wing Jordan Eberle is confident the Kraken will at least surprise some teams in the playoffs.

“It’s why you play this game, to get to that point,” Eberle said. “Not only do I think that we’re going to gain experience from [this], but I think the way that we play, hopefully, we can surprise some teams. You look at the Stanley Cup playoffs … everyone has a chance. Getting in is only half the battle. Now the real work begins.”

Starting left wing Jared McCann called the team’s accomplishment “an honor,” especially after the results of their inaugural season.

“People told us that it’d [just] be the same as last year, especially at the beginning of the season, [but it was] a great thing to build on. But the job’s not done. We’re very excited, very honored to be in the playoffs; obviously, that’s a huge thing in itself, especially in the second season of this organization. We’ve worked all year for this, it’s very special, [and] it’s an honor to play for an organization like this,” McCann said.

Chishungu shared what she believed to be the Kraken’s best asset in bringing home the championship.

“The team’s best assets are their players and the chemistry they have. We weren’t winning as much in the beginning of the season until Jordan Eberle and Matty [Beniers] were put together,” Chishungu said. 

The playoffs are always a time of tension, but head coach Dave Hakstol reminds fans that the Kraken’s season is far from over.

“We’re not done yet. We’re not just going to be satisfied with [this],” Hakstol said. “Going into the playoffs, we’re going to find out who we’re going up against [and] go to work. We don’t have to experiment. We’ve gone through enough different things throughout the year [that] we know where people fit. ”

Whether the Kraken win the championship or get eliminated in the first round, this season has been crucial in establishing a winning culture for the organization going forward. 

“When you look around and you see quality people, that quality rubs off on the other players [and] gives confidence to everybody,” Hakstol said. “[Belief] is a really hard thing to establish, but you establish it through camaraderie, you establish it through going through some ups and downs together and coming out of it on the other side with a little bit of success, and this group did that throughout the year in small little increments …. Everybody in this room 10 months ago was new, but we’ve grown a little bit.”