In their first-ever regular-season game, the Seattle Kraken fell 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives as Seattle kept pace with one of the league’s elite to the final whistle. Here are three takeaways from the game.
Captain Giordano Steps Up Early
Mark Giordano was the best Kraken on the ice. The captain had five shots on goal, played 21:46, blocked two shots, and finished with a 61.54 Corsi for percentage (CF%) at 5-on-5. He also registered the first shot on goal in franchise history. When he was on the ice, the Kraken controlled play as they not only outshot Vegas 14 to eight but also created more high danger scoring chances with a final total of five to one.
The only critique of Giordano’s game tonight is that he could not generate shots as the game wore on. Four of his five shots happened in the first period. According to the official stat sheet, he only attempted one shot on goal in the final 30 minutes of the game. The captain needs to help generate offense late in games, especially when Seattle is pushing to tie the game in the third. He did step up for the Kraken overall but needed to help generate more offense late in the games as he did in 2019 when he won the Norris Trophy.
The Second Line Dominates
Although most of the focus was on the first line, it was the second line that deserves the credit from this game. Marcus Johannson, Alex Wennberg and Jonas Donskoi stepped up for the Kraken in their 9:16 of five on five play. As a line, they registered an 81.25 CF% and outshot the opposition seven to one. They were even out there for the final few seconds as the Kraken were desperately looking for the equalizer.
To succeed in the NHL, teams need a solid second line that can generate chances and keep the opposition hemmed in their zone. It has only been one game, but this trio shows they have some chemistry together, and coach Dave Hakstol should keep them together even after Yanni Gourde returns. The only thing they need to work on now is getting the puck in the net, as even though the trio out-chanced their opposition 13 to three, they were unable to contribute a goal to the game.
A special shoutout goes to Wennberg, who may have been Seattle’s best player tonight. He went eight for 11 in the faceoff dot and did not have a faceoff percentage lower than 67% in any zone on the ice. As for his stats, he had two shots on goal, created four scoring chances and finished the game with a 63.33 CF%. A lot is expected from him after he signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract in the offseason. If he can continue to dominate in the faceoff dot while generating offense like he did tonight, his $4.5 million cap hit may look like a steal by the end of the season.
Kraken Physical Throughout
One thing that stuck out was the Kraken’s willingness to throw hits. 13 players registered a hit in the game, including every defenceman. The biggest surprise was Haydn Fleury, who finished tied for the team lead with five hits despite only averaging 1.34 hits per game last season. Others with five included Brandon Tanev, Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson.
Seattle got in on the forecheck and ensured almost everyone on Vegas was hit at least once. The only players that escaped punishment on the Golden Knights were Dylan Coghlan, Alex Pietrangelo and Jonathan Marchessault. A hit even led to the second goal as Larsson’s hit on Max Pacioretty in the Kraken zone led to a turnover and Jared McCann making it a 3-2 game. If the Kraken wants to be successful, they will need to throw the body. If tonight’s game is any indication, there should be quite a few games this season where the opposition will need to ice themselves down after the game.
Exciting First Game
This was an exciting game until the finish. The Kraken did not get discouraged despite being down 3-0 and fought all the way back. If not for a controversial goal allowed to make the game 4-3 for Vegas, they may have been able to force this game to overtime. It is going to be an exciting season for Seattle, and this was just the start.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.