High Points: May game
What the hell is a Kraken?
May was supposed to be the month in this hockey town that we were going to settle into our bar stools every other night and watch the Colorado Avalanche work their way through the best of the National Hockey League to capture their second straight Stanley Cup championship.
But now, because of something called a Kraken, we must drink bitter beer as teams from non-hockey hubs like Dallas, Charlotte, and Sunrise Florida compete for the right to take Lord Stanley’s silver chalice away from Denver.
It was not supposed to be like this.
The Avalanche — despite a few regular season bumps in the ice and a run of significant injuries — won the Central Division of the Western Conference and looked to be on a skate to destiny where they would meet the Boston Bruins in an epic Final. Sure, they would have to dispatch the fledgling Seattle Kraken first and then likely tough it out against a formidable Las Vegas Golden Knights squad, but that was all just to be foreplay before the Bruins.
Sadly, as they say, that’s why they play the games.
Before the clock even struck midnight on Sunday to usher in May, the Avalanche were eliminated in exquisitely diabolic fashion.
In Game 7.
After following behind two goals to none, the Avs were rallying. In the 3rd period, with Colorado trailing 2-1, Nathan MacKinnon scored what appeared to be a game tying goal that would surely be a momentum changer. But Seattle challenged the play, and the goal was disallowed due to Colorado being offside.
Ouch. Game over.
Adding insult to injury was the play of the Kraken goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer who had once been a part of the Avalanche before shuffling off to Seattle following the 2021 season. He had a magnificent Game 7, stopping 33 shots and allowing just one goal to cap a stellar series. It was more bitter than sweet to be vanquished by an ex-teammate.
In hindsight, we maybe should have seen it coming. The Avalanche allowed the Kraken to score first in each game of the series, they couldn’t connect on their power play opportunities, going just 2 for 18, and they had a rash of injuries that were difficult to overcome. And get this: They had lost five straight game 7s in the playoffs going back to 2002. Make it six.
If it is any consolation the Bruins, which had set NHL records for most points (135) in a season and most games won (65), will also no longer be playing in May. The Bruins were eliminated in a seven game series-also at home by the Florida Panthers. The New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings are also out of the playoffs, depriving the NHL of a plethora of big-market, high-profile teams for the month of May.
Now I’m rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers, the last two Canadian teams left in the playoffs, to make this a May to remember. Incredibly, the last time a team from Canada had its name inscribed on the Stanley Cup was 30 years ago, when the Montreal Canadiens won in 1993 over Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. That is so long ago that the Avalanche were still in Quebec and called the Nordiques. Long live Gordon Lightfoot.
Oh, and about the Kraken. A Kraken is a mythical sea beast from Scandinavian lore, much like a massive octopus. It was one of 13 names registered by the Seattle ownership group out of what it said were 1,200 considered. A poll was conducted within the city of Seattle, and after 215,000 votes were in, the team opted for the unique moniker.
May it one day appear atop the Stanley Cup.