Kraken 3 Up, 3 Down: Gourde, Robertson, Goaltending & More

Welcome to this edition of our Seattle Kraken 3 Ups, 3 Downs column. In this series, we look at some of the highs and lows of Seattle’s recent play. From the play of prospects to storylines surrounding the NHL franchise, The Hockey Writers is your go-to place for all things Kraken.

Seattle Kraken 3 Up, 3 Down
Seattle Kraken 3 Up, 3 Down (The Hockey Writers)

After a strong start to the season, the Kraken have struggled over their past few games. This edition looks at what has gone wrong since the month switched to December and which player has been stepping up late for Seattle. We will also look at record-setting performance by a Kraken prospect, as well as Kole Lind’s hot start to the season.

Plus 1: Yanni Gourde Leads the Way

Through the first seven games of December, Yanni Gourde has been leading by example. His six points lead the team, and he is one of the few players on the team who is not afraid to stand up for his teammates. Seattle may not have an official captain, but he has definitely grasped that role based on the way he has played so far this season.

Related: Gourde’s Legacy as the Lightning’s Determined, Underrated Star

Overall, Gourde has been able to become that shutdown center the Kraken hoped for when they picked him in the Expansion Draft. He is limiting the opposition’s top players and has had a decent month in the faceoff circle, winning 52.4% of his defensive zone draws. Despite the team’s recent struggles, he has been a bright spot through the first half of December.

Minus 1: Kraken’s Struggles in December

It is no secret that the Kraken have struggled as a team through the first half of December. They have two wins through seven games and have lost by three or more in three of their games. Overall, they have scored 16 goals, which is tied for 28th in the league and their .286% points percentage ranks 31st, just ahead of the tanking Chicago Blackhawks.

Dave Hakstol Seattle Kraken Head Coach
Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken Head Coach (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Overall, the Kraken haven’t played poorly, but their even strength offence has dried up completely. From Nov. 15-30, Seattle had 24 goals at even strength in a six-game span. From Dec. 1-15, they have 13 goals in a seven-game span. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to outscore their poor goaltending lately, which is a major factor in why they have a 2-5 record in their last seven games.

Plus 2: Tucker Robertson’s Record-Setting Game

Peterborough Petes and Kraken 2022 fourth-rounder Tucker Robertson set a franchise record as he scored two goals in nine seconds on Dec. 15. His goals at 19:01 and 19:10 of the first period beat the previous record of 10, which had been accomplished twice. First by Ryan Pawluk in 1994 and then by Brad Self in 2001. The Petes would win the game 8-2 and have now won two in a row.

Related: Tucker Robertson – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Robertson has started the season strong with 15 goals and 34 points in 31 games. He is on pace for 75 points this year, which is just under the 81 he put up in 2021-22. Wearing an “A” on his jersey, he has stepped up this season and will be looked on the keep driving the offence while Brennan Othmann is away at the World Juniors.

Minus 2: Seattle’s Power Play Struggling

The Kraken’s power play has been problematic in their last seven games. Starting with a power play that was driving the offence for this team, they have converted on just two of their last 20 attempts and sit 31st in the league with a 10% efficiency rate through the first half of December. One major reason is they only have 25 shots on goal and are constantly being forced out of the zone by the penalty killers. They need to play with more urgency and get more traffic to the front of the net; otherwise; their power play will continue to stall.

Andre Burakovsky Seattle Kraken
Andre Burakovsky, Seattle Kraken (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHI via Getty Images)

The biggest issue is that the player who should be shooting the puck just aren’t. The two players with the most shots are Daniel Sprong and Jaden Schwartz, who both have five, while Justin Schultz, Oliver Bjorkstrand and André Burakovsky have three combined. The Kraken brought these three in to be difference makers with the man advantage, and over this seven-game stretch, they have been producing next to nothing. If these three can rediscover their form and Jared McCann, along with Matty Beniers, can start putting the puck in the net, things should go back to the way they were early on in the season.

Plus 3: Kole Lind’s Start in the AHL

Kole Lind has found his grove in the American Hockey League with 22 points in his first 21 games. He has already scored two hat tricks this season and is currently riding a four-game point streak. The former 2017 second-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks leads the team in goals with 11 and power-play goals with six.

Related: 2021-22 Kraken Report Cards: Fleury, Gourde, Lind

If Lind continues this strong play, he may be a candidate for a call-up if injuries hit the Kraken. The 24-year-old did impress during his extended run with the Kraken, recording eight points in 23 games last season and would be a cheap fill-in if required. If he continues his strong play, he should have no problem breaking his previous career high of 44 points he set back in 2019-20.

Minus One: Goaltending a Problem Again

After a promising start, the Seattle Kraken’s goaltending has once again let down the team. Both Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones have a save percentage of below .900% since the beginning of December, and both are not even in the top 50 for goals against average. It seems that regardless of who is in net or how well they are playing, they give up a bad goal that changes the momentum of a game and ends up sinking the team.

The biggest surprise has been Jones, who is only facing an average of 21.4 shots per game. He was so good with Grubauer out but seems to have reverted to his 2020-21 form once the Germany keeper returned from injury. The tandem has been carried by the Kraken’s strong goal-scoring all season, and now need to show they can carry the team when the goals are not going in as consistently at the other end.

Kraken Need to Rediscover Form before Holiday Break

Due to their recent play, Seattle now finds themselves third in the Pacific and at risk of falling out of the playoff picture altogether. Their next three games are crucial as they face a tough Winnipeg Jets team, the stingy St. Louis Blues and a team they have never beaten before the Canucks. While the next three games won’t make or break their season, it will tell the fan base what type of team this is and if they can bounce back and fight off adversity after a tough stretch of games.

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