Banter Preview: Rangers visit Kraken

10 p.m. starts? Here we go.

Tonight the New York Rangers are in Seattle, the home of Buoy, flying salmon, and the Kraken. Unfortunately for the Rangers, this isn’t the same Kraken team they met last year. Seattle is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and come into tonight’s game with a record of 8-5-3. This may be a team without superstars, but it is showing signs of figuring things out and are now third in the Pacific Division ahead of both the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Kraken are in the same neighborhood as the Blueshirts in average goals conceded (Kraken 2.81 GA/GP; Rangers 2.76 GA/GP). That’s an interesting number considering their winningest goalie is Martin Jones — yes, that Martin Jones — who has a .909 Sv% with 7 of Seattle’s 8 wins this year. So, we’re going to give the Rangers the edge in net tonight.

Even with the Kraken looking much improved from last year’s team — which just couldn’t buy a save — this is a game the Rangers should win. Right now, the Blueshirts are a better team with more high-end talent than the Kraken. Seattle has struggled in a big, bad way on the penalty kill (75.9%) and although the Kraken are comfortably in the green with a 51.63 xGF%, the Rangers are in another league at 55.76 xGF% — which is fifth in the league as of today. Overall, the Rangers are a deeper, better hockey team on paper.

Record Aside, The Rangers Will Be Fine

One Kraken player to keep a close eye on in this one is winger Andre Burakovsky, who leads Seattle with 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in 16 GP. It’s important to note that half of Burakovsky’s points have come on the man advantage but he also has six primary points at 5-on-5. He’s a difference-maker.

Of course, another player to keep tabs on is 20-year-old Matty Beniers, who has 5 goals and 4 assists and is among Seattle’s most productive players. The 2nd overall pick of the 2021 Draft is one of the most exciting prospects in the NHL. After playing 10 games in 2021-22, Beniers is looking to make a real mark as a pro this year. He’s averaging 17:27 TOI/GP and 4 of his 5 goals have been scored at evens. If you’re debating staying up for the entire game, a better look at Beniers might be a good excuse to be rubbing the sleep out of your eyes on Friday morning.

After this meeting, the Rangers and Kraken will meet again only once this season, on Feb. 10 at MSG. The puck drops tonight at 10 p.m. ET at Climate Pledge Arena, which will host the Rivalry Series between the U.S. and Canadian women’s national teams on Nov. 20.

Data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.