Las Vegas wasn't your typical expansion team. The Golden Knights were good right away. Seattle isn't typical either. The Kraken aren't going to reach the lofty heights the Golden Knights did during their first couple of seasons, but they will be competitive. That's because the Kraken went for defense and goaltending.
Seattle is going to play a conservative, defensive style. The Kraken have the veteran players to do this starting with defenseman and team captain Mark Giordano and goalie Philipp Graubauer, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season when he was with Colorado.
The Kraken shut out Vancouver, 4-0, in their final preseason game last Tuesday.
The Golden Knights ended last season losing in six games to the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup semifinals producing only 13 goals in those six games while going 0-for-15 in power play opportunities. Robin Lehner teamed with Marc-Andre Fleury to allow the fewest goals last season. Lehner takes over as the undisputed No. 1 goalie following Fleury's departure to the Blackhawks. Lehner and Graubauer are among the top goalies in the NHL.
Depth at forward is down for both teams because of injuries and COVID-19 protocols. Las Vegas had just 10 forwards during its last practice.
So I'm expecting a tight-checking, low-scoring opening game.
Tuesday Bonus Play
Penguins at Lightning Under 6 minus $1.17
Not having Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to begin the season means a transformation for the Penguins. This transformation is to a strong defensive tone starting with this opening game.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan realizes he can't replace the 2.4 average points that Crosby and Malkin produced. So look for Pittsburgh to rely on structure and an emphasis on defense. The Penguins have good defensive depth. That was made obvious when they sent down Pierre-Olivier Joseph, who I regard as a very good defensive prospect.
Sullivan was quoted saying this, ''If we're going to have success, we're going to have to play a stringy game. It's going to take a collective effort and attention to detail. With some of the game-breakers that aren't in our lineup right now, we can't look to those guys to be the difference. We have to build a team game that's going to give us the best chance to be successful.''
The Penguins led the NHL in goals against average and save percentage during March. Their goalie, Tristan Jarry, is coming off a strong regular season where he went 25-9-3 with a 2.75 goals against average.
Tampa Bay has the No. 1 goalie in the NHL in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning also will be breaking an entire new third line.