It took two games, but the Seattle Kraken won their first game in franchise history over the Nashville Predators, 4-3. Positives, negatives, there’s a lot to take out of this game. Here’s three takeaways, as well as some player-specific shout-outs based on the game. Let’s dive in.
Poppin’ Power Play
Coming into the season, the Kraken was looked at to be a team with strong defense and penalty killing ability due to their defensive depth. While the top power-play unit, may have been expected to produce, the penalty kill was likely to be the better of the two.
Last night, the power play went 2-for-2, and the two goals came just over two minutes apart. Of the 12 skaters that saw power-play ice time, six registered points; a testament to the team’s depth.
Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol has used 15 different players on his power play through the two games, including trusting recent wavier-claimee Alex Barre-Boulet with a brief shift. Following the power-play chance, Barre-Boulet took that faith and sent a pass to Alex Wennberg for the then-go-ahead goal. While Barre-Boulet’s power play ice time was only 21-seconds of his 9:05 time on ice, that trust could have given him the confidence to make that pass for his first career assist.
While it’s good to stick with what works, don’t be surprised to see more Kraken get power-play opportunities.
“Turbo” Tanev, Unlikely Hero
Brandon Tanev is going to become a fan favorite in Seattle. He has speed and scoring ability on one side of the puck, and is responsible defensively on the other. His physical play will breathe life into Climate Pledge Arena game-in and game-out.
Last night’s game highlighted everything you’d want to see from Tanev. He led all skaters with four hits. He played in all situations, albeit just eight seconds at the tail end of a power play. Yet, he scored a power-play goal to give the Kraken their first lead in franchise history, and later, his empty netter gave them their first win. Have that on your “Inaugural Season BINGO” card?
He was on a line with Ryan Donato and Morgan Geekie, the third line to start the game, and the line combined for seven shots. Third line ice time could prove to be fantastic for Tanev. He is looking to build on last season, which saw career-highs in goals per game, assists per game, and points per game.
The Donato, Geekie, Tanev line brings goal scoring and play-driving ability. The line is built well, as Donato will be the playmaker for Geekie, the sniper. Both driven by Tanev’s power forward, forechecking ability. In addition, if last night wasn’t obvious enough to convince you of his offensive ability, remember his goal won a national championship for Providence College in 2015.
Is it his job to score? Not necessarily. However, if he can get into a rhythm within the bottom-six and really get them going, it will take a lot of the pressure off the guys “expected” to be scoring the goals. It should help the Kraken win a lot of games.
Kraken Under Siege, Grubauer Holds Strong
The Kraken saw 40% of faceoffs in the defensive zone, and won 44% overall, down from 48% against Vegas in the opener. Being built as a defensive team from the goalie to the two-way forwards, it’s expected that they may get hemmed into their defensive zone for stretches.
Stretches. Not full periods.
The Kraken were bombarded in the third period, to the tune of being out-shot 13-1. Fortunately for them, that one shot was an empty-net goal that became the game-winning goal.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer can’t be expected to stand on his head like that every time the Kraken has a third-period lead. However, it did show that the reigning Vezina nominee can be depended on when it counts, despite a completely new defense in front of him. He gave up a late goal on a poorly defended play when one Kraken defender was left to cover two Predators below the dots, but that could be seen as a defensive lapse.
While it’s a good sign that Grubauer was able to shut the door, complacency in this department will be a Kraken killer. It is likely to be addressed ahead of their next tilt.
These aren’t takeaways, but just some recognition for a few players who stood out during the game.
Vince Dunn had the first fight in Kraken history. Didn’t expect to hear that one, right? Like fighting, or hate it, while still serving his five minutes, the Kraken scored. Coincidence? Maybe. However, captain Mark Giordano named Dunn his player of the game following the win, which says a lot.
Adam Larsson led all skaters with 25:11 time on ice and added three shots. What’s going to earn him a lot of steak dinners from his teammates is his shot blocking. He proved that last night with four blocks, leading all skaters.
A Date in Columbus
The Kraken has positives and negatives to take out of their first win. Heading into Columbus for an evening with the Blue Jackets on Saturday, Oct. 16, expect to see a drastically different third period. In addition, no goals allowed in the first five minutes would be a step in the right direction. With that, the power play clicking, and Tanev leading the bottom-six, the Kraken could eye their next franchise first: a winning streak.
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.