Similar to their first franchise win, the Seattle Kraken’s first home victory came in their second attempt, beating the Montreal Canadiens 5-1. The game was a rematch of the unfinished 1919 Stanley Cup Finals between the Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans. It was the only Stanley Cup Final in history where the Cup wasn’t awarded due to cancellation because of the Spanish Flu.
However, there was another banner raising at Climate Pledge Arena. The 1917 Stanley Cup champion Metropolitans, who beat the Canadiens, had their team honored and a banner raised to the rafters. The Kraken then paid tribute to the Metropolitans, who held the 1917 Canadiens to a lone goal in Games 2-4, by holding the 2021 Canadiens to just one goal. Here are three takeaways from the Kraken’s inaugural home win.
Brandon “Turbo” Tanev: Kraken Heart and Soul
It was easy for fans to like Tanev right from the expansion draft, as he poked fun at himself for his previous season’s headshot, only to follow it up with an even better one. He even had a former teammate recreate it. It’s a testament to how much guys like him in the room. Based on his play, they’re going to like him as much on the ice too, if not more.
Tanev played 14:52, including time on both the power play and penalty kill, scored two goals on three shots, had six hits and a takeaway. He was a force to be reckoned with.
He leads the Kraken with five goals and 27 hits, the former is much more surprising than the latter. There’s no doubt he has offensive skill, but he isn’t the guy who’s expected to be scoring the goals. In three games where Tanev scored a goal, the Kraken is 2-0-1. They’re 2-0 when he scores two.
In the early going, Tanev is the catalyst to this Kraken team. The fans, the players, management, they all know what they’re going to get from him night-in and night-out. Even if the scoring numbers die down, he is going to be a key component to the Kraken for years to come, and he’s off to a fantastic start.
Philipp Grubauer Strong, Shuts the Door
Grubauer stopped 23-of-24 shots he faced, and he faced most shots sent his way. His team in front of him only blocked six shots, which was a statistic that the Canadiens tripled. Aside from an unfortunate rebound that resulted in a Mike Hoffman goal, he played really strongly.
The lone goal-against and .958 save percentage (SV%) were his best of the season. While he saw his second-lowest shots-against total, he still saw at least a shot-against in all situations and was a perfect four-for-four between power play and shorthanded shots-against.
This was a big, big game for Grubauer and the Kraken. They were on a losing streak, and while the team was having trouble scoring, he didn’t necessarily put up reigning-Vezina nominee numbers. It’s the first time the Kraken has scored more than two goals since their first win.
Grubauer needs to take this game and let it fuel his confidence. If the Kraken isn’t scoring, and at this point, it’s hit or miss, they’ll need him to stand on his head more often than not. If he has his confidence, expect his numbers to start to turn around, even if the team isn’t ending up in the win column. Eventually, it’ll translate.
Kraken Defense Is Active Offensively
For a defense that was projected to be more defensive than offensive, it seems like they never got the memo. Kraken defensemen combined for four assists, an even split with the forward corps, led by “Big Rig” Jamie Oleksiak with two. They also had 10-of-26 Kraken shots on goal.
Oleksiak isn’t necessarily someone expected to be putting up points, let alone a multi-point game. He scored six goals and eight assists for the Dallas Stars last season and didn’t register a single multi-point game. He was also a plus-3 against the Habs, so he successfully played at both ends of the ice.
Haydn Fleury rifled five shots on goal, and Vince Dunn tallied two, which is something you really want to see as they’re looked at to be the future offensive producers on the backend. Fleury saw 1:23 of penalty kill time. Dunn played 4:19 on the power play, 19 more seconds than captain Mark Giordano.
As was mentioned with Grubauer, the key for players like Fleury and Dunn is confidence. If their confidence is high, their performance is going to reflect that. This is one of those games that can build their confidence, so watch for more out of them as the homestand continues.
There are three Kraken from tonight who deserve recognition.
Jordan Eberle has been snakebitten to start the season but finally broke the ice with his first goal just 62 seconds into the game to give the Kraken an early lead. He finished the game with that one goal on four shots and had three takeaways with no giveaways.
Yanni Gourde has played three games since returning from shoulder surgery and has three points. Two came tonight, as he had a goal and an assist, five shots, and won 73% of his faceoffs. His 21:24 time on ice was more than any forward on either team, and he played in all situations.
Riley Sheahan played 12 minutes and was the Kraken’s most utilized penalty-killing forward. He also registered a takeaway and won 67% of his faceoffs. You don’t need to show up on the scoresheet to have a strong game within your role, and he proved that.
Next Up: The Minnesota Wild
The Kraken looks to keep the momentum rolling as the Wild come to town for their first matchup. The Wild are 5-1 coming in and will be a tough test for the Kraken, now 2-4-1. For more on the Wild ahead of the matchup, THW’s Mariah Holland took a look at two of their top players, Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov.
If the Kraken can give Grubauer goal support, and his confidence trends upwards, this is more of a winnable game than it could look on paper.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.