The Seattle Kraken’s inaugural preseason came to a close with a 4-0 victory of the Vancouver Canucks. They finished with four wins, two losses, and a goal differential of -1. Here are four takeaways from the preseason as the team sets their eyes on the season opener in Vegas
Special Teams Success
Throughout the preseason, the Kraken had success on the power play as well as the penalty kill. Although the competition was not NHL quality on most nights, Seattle showed they could run successful special teams. Since they do not have a deep farm system yet, most of the NHL roster was dressed for every preseason game, allowing them to gain some chemistry, starting with the power play.
To have success in the NHL, a team needs to have a successful power play. During the preseason, Seattle went 7 for 27 with the man advantage for a 25.9% efficiency percentage. The sample size is limited, but only two teams were over 25% last season on the power play throughout the entire season. As mentioned, it is the preseason, but it is never a bad thing to have your power play clicking going into the season.
The other part of special teams is the penalty kill. Seattle killed 17 of 21 for an 80% efficiency percentage. If the Kraken want to make the playoffs, they need their penalty kill group to shut down the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights’ power plays. Both are expected to be near the top of the league and could be the difference between winning and losing. The Kraken need to fine-tune some aspects of their penalty kill, but all in all, they did an excellent job during the preseason.
The 13-14-15 Line
The line of Brandon Tanev, Nathan Bastian, and Riley Sheahan looked great throughout the preseason. They scored the first-ever goal in Kraken franchise history and were a pain to play against whenever combined. This trio could be used as a shutdown line during the regular season and should be a pain to play against.
Based on the limited analytics recorded during the preseason, this line showed they could be a successful combo. They registered a 100 Corsi for percentage (CF%) in 1:46 during the 6-0 loss to the Oilers and a 50 CF% in 6:58 during the 4-0 victory versus the Canucks. Based on their preseason play, these three have found some chemistry and may have earned a spot on the opening night roster.
Philipp Grubauer Rounding Into Form
Philipp Grubauer started slow this preseason but has been rounding into form with each passing game. He finished the preseason with a .931 save percentage (SV%) and shut out the Canucks during the final exhibition game. Last year’s Vezina finalist will have a big season if Seattle wants a chance at the playoffs and is already showing why bringing him in was the right decision.
As mentioned, stats are limited during the preseason, but they are available for the 4-0 win versus the Canucks. Grubauer stopped all 11 high danger chances he faced during that game, with seven of those coming at five on five. On the penalty kill, he could limit Vancouver to only five rebound chances the entire game. Now the hope is he can continue this play into the season and be back in the Vezina conversation come April.
The Kraken did a great job this preseason, limiting opportunities five on five during the preseason. The forwards are playing strong against the board and forcing pucks out, while the defense is making plays to limit high danger chances against. Now they will need to nail down some set defensive pairings for the start of the season.
Coach Dave Hakstol spent most of the preseason rotating his defensive pairing on a game-by-game basis. Some of the pairings that stood out positively were Jamie Oleksiak with Vince Dunn and Adam Larsson with Carson Soucy. Projected seventh defenseman Jérémy Lauzon had a strong exhibition season, especially when partnered with Dunn. This should be one of the strongest defensive groups in the NHL and make it difficult for other teams to get scoring chances throughout the season.
Ready for the Season
Now that the preseason is done, all eyes turn to Oct. 12, when the Kraken taken on the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural game. Although it will be difficult to replicate the inaugural season Vegas had, expectations are high in Seattle as the fans have their eyes set on the playoffs in year one. The question now is can the team meet the high expectations and bring the Emerald City fans to their feet this season.
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 area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.