3 Takeaways From Disappointing Kraken Loss to Coyotes

There is no such thing as a “sure thing” in the NHL. Despite an explosive start, the Seattle Kraken lost to the Arizona Coyotes 5-4, giving the Yotes their first win of the season. Seattle sank to 4-7-1, while Arizona climbed to 1-10-1. In the takeaways piece after beating the Sabres, this match was described as a must-win. 

The Kraken are far from the top of the standings, but going up against a winless team that could neither score nor prevent goals afforded an opportunity for the Kraken to pounce on. They had the lead and let it slip away. Here are three takeaways that try to help make sense of what we just witnessed.

Kraken Get Comfortable After Explosive Start

The Kraken kicked things off with two goals in the first 59 seconds. It was the first time that a team had scored two goals in the opening minute since the St. Louis Blues did it on Jan. 30, 2021. The team was buzzing. Their two goals came on their first two shots, and chased Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka, who has played well despite his record.

Recently claimed off waivers from the New Jersey Devils, Scott Wedgewood came in for relief. The Kraken then quickly gave one back. The Coyotes’ first shot was the game’s third, and the third goal of the game. 

The Kraken finally got off to a strong start, not letting up the first goal. The Coyotes were resilient and hung around, and it was another Kraken goal against within the first 10 minutes. They came out of the period leading 3-1, but that one was like a slightly open door for the Coyotes.

They just kept coming, and the Kraken couldn’t stop them. The Coyotes were more physical than the Kraken, out-hitting them 45-26 and almost doubling their blocked shot total. Seattle has been out-hit in over half their games this season. The Kraken out-chanced them in the first and third periods, but the Coyotes owned the second and came away with a goal.

It can trace back to two familiar points: the Kraken power play was powerless again, and this team will sink or swim by Philipp Grubauer. The power play went 0-for-2. Without the power play to give them any support when struggling to score at even strength and Grubauer again showing inconsistencies, this team is going to keep heading down a disappointing path. While they may not be looking like a playoff team, they should have a lot more to give. 

Kraken Saw Offensive Contributions Up and Down the Lineup 

Despite the outcome, the Kraken can still find some good to take away. Their goals came from three different forward lines and one from the blue line. Jordan Eberle scored again, as did Yanni Gourde and Nathan Bastian in the first period. Captain Mark Giordano scored in the third for a late tie, which the team squandered 13 seconds later. 

Nathan Bastian, Seattle Kraken
Nathan Bastian, Seattle Kraken forward, scored a goal against the Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It appears that second-line Brandon Tanev is off to a strong start for the Kraken, as he tallied a primary assist on Gourde’s goal. Despite being unassisted, Bastian scoring could maybe translate to more production from the fourth line. The Kraken are in dire need of consistent goal scoring, especially with an ineffective power play. If some of these minor changes at even strength start paying off, they should apply it to the power play personnel.

They’ve dropped to last in the Pacific Division. The Pacific looks like its top-two spots are locked up for the time being, but three through eight are wide open. The Kraken need to figure it out before it’s too late and they’re stuck standing on the outside and waving through a window. 

Kraken Are Overplaying Grubauer

Grubauer is the Kraken’s key to success. He has played in 10-of-12 Kraken games to open the season, starting all 10, and it’s too much. He’s on pace to play 68 games this season, which blows away any of his previous totals. It surpasses his 82-game projection from last season, and it’s in front of a drastically different team than he had when he earned a Vezina nomination. 

He is now 4-5-1 on the year with a 2.97 goals against average (GAA) and .886 save percentage (SV%). On a team that has difficulty scoring, that isn’t going to get the job done. Chris Driedger is back from injury and should get more playing time.

Chris Driedger, Seattle Kraken
Chris Driedger, Seattle Kraken goaltender, is back in the lineup and should take some of the weight off Phillip Grubauer’s shoulders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While it seems clear that Grubauer is the starter and Driedger is the backup, a 1A/1B style tandem may favor the Kraken. Either way, Grubauer is what will keep this team afloat or allow them to drown. He needs to find consistency, and if fewer games and pressure will help him find it, the Kraken need to make it happen. 

Seattle Shoutouts

With all the different storylines that have emerged since the very start of this season, it seems like Giordano’s defense-leading seven points have gone unnoticed. He scored a late game-tying goal against the Coyotes. He did so on three shots and added a hit, a block and was a plus-3 in 22:47 time on ice, which led all skaters.

Mark Giordano, Seattle Kraken
Defenseman Mark Giordano, Seattle Kraken captain, scored in the dying minutes of the third period (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Eberle has been firing on all cylinders. He has six goals in his last six games after his goal against Arizona, just 15 seconds into the game, and four goals in his last two games. He finished the game with five shots, which tied linemate Jaden Schwartz for most among skaters, in 19:20 time on ice.

Kraken Head to Vegas for Revenge

The Kraken have the first “revenge” game in franchise history in their next tilt, as they’ll make their first trip to Las Vegas to face the Golden Knights. The Knights have been one of the most discussed teams in the league this season, especially recently.

Robin Lehner Vegas Golden Knights
Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s the Jack Eichel trade, which was kind of a big deal. They were projected by the THW staff to finish first in the Pacific Division, yet currently sit fifth with a 6-5-0 record through 11 games as of the writing of this article. Injuries have played a part, and they’ve now lost Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs in the Eichel trade, and will be without Eichel as he will be undergoing surgery in the coming week. 

Related: THW’s 2021-22 Predictions: Standings, Stanley Cup & NHL Awards

It was imperative for the Kraken to have taken a game against a winless team and use it to start a streak, building momentum for the match with the Knights. All they can do is look at the positives and try and keep trying to correct the negatives.

Should they go with “their guy” in Grubauer against the Knights or give Driedger his shot? The latter may be the better bet. Either way, the Kraken can’t afford to dwell on this loss. They need at least a point from their rematch with the Knights.

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