When the Seattle Kraken entered the NHL, they were expected to build a rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks. The cities are separated by a three-hour drive and already have a fierce rivalry in Major League Soccer (MLS). But, for this to become a real battle for years to come, the Kraken need to find a way to beat the Canucks next season.
Kraken vs. Canucks Rivalry So Far
Some of the most famous rivalries include the Toronto Maple Leafs vs the Montreal Canadiens, the Green Bay Packers vs the Chicago Bears, the New York Yankees vs the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Bulls vs the Detroit Pistons. Whether it’s thanks to playoff series of the past or hatred between the two cities, these historic rivalries rely on a balance rather than one team winning every game.
For the Kraken and Canucks to get to this level, Seattle needs to start winning games against Vancouver. Last season, the Canucks went 4-0, outscoring the Kraken 19-8. They even crashed Seattle’s franchise home opener with a 4-2 victory at Climate Pledge Arena. While the Kraken may already hate the Canucks because of their inability to beat them, there is no animosity in Vancouver, because why would there be? The battle between these two great cities will take time to brew, but it has the potential to be the next great rivalry once Seattle starts winning some matchups.
Why this Rivalry is Important to Both Sides
The Kraken vs Canucks rivalry is important to the fans. Both fan bases are extremely passionate and want to see their teams succeed. Due to the close proximity of the cities, and as mentioned, the long-time soccer rivalry that goes back over 40 years, it has created an intense competition between the two groups leading to neither wanting the other to have success. There was even a bet between the British Columbia Premier and Governor of Washington State before the first-ever matchup. Although it is a new NHL rivalry, there already are signs showing it has what it takes to be an exciting one.
How the Kraken Can Beat the Canucks in 2022-23
There are a few areas the Kraken need to work on if they want to beat the Canucks this season. The first is special teams. Last season, Seattle only managed one power-play goal in 16 opportunities through four games. While eight of those opportunities came in one game, the Kraken need to become more consistent on the man advantage. The Canucks, on the other hand, had no problem scoring a goal in each of the four games, going 4/13 in the season series. Of course, the addition of André Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand should change this trend and help Seattle become a more consistent power-play threat against their would-be rivals.
That said, goaltending was easily the Kraken’s biggest issue last season and the main reason they couldn’t beat the Canucks. All three Seattle goaltenders played at least one game versus the Canucks but collectively only finished one with a save percentage (SV%) above .900. That was courtesy of Chris Driedger, who stopped 41 of 45 shots in a 5-2 loss on Feb. 21, 2022. By the end of the season, the Kraken posted a .887 SV% as a team at five on five versus the Canucks, and a .858 SV% including special teams. If Seattle wants a chance at beating Vancouver next season, their goaltending must be better.
The last area that needs work is for their players to show up in this series. Last season, Jordan Eberle, Yanni Gourde and Jared McCann combined for two goals and four assists through four games. By comparison, J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes had six points each. If Seattle’s stars can match the production of Vancouver’s stars, the Kraken will hopefully walk away with more than one win next season, and the rivalry will be born.
Kraken Victory vs. Canucks Priority Number One Next Season
If the Kraken want to be successful next season, they must beat the Canucks. Seattle and Vancouver are very passionate fan bases that want to see their teams be successful, or at least prevent their rivals from having any form of success. The Northwest foes face off four times, which is just enough time for a true rivalry to develop. If Seattle wants this matchup to eventually rival some of the best in the sports world, it must start with a victory.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.