In hockey, the US Thanksgiving mark of the season often represents a check-in point. It is used as a benchmark that compares past results to predict playoff teams. In the NHL’s salary cap era, 76.3 percent of teams who are in a playoff spot on US Thanksgiving go on to make the playoffs. To walk a superstitious line, it feels safe to avoid saying much more about that.
Thanksgiving also represents the season’s quarter mark, which seems like as good a time as ever to reflect on some of the moments that have stood out. Despite being nearly two months into the season, it feels like only yesterday that the Seattle Kraken began their second NHL season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the moments that have made up the first quarter.
Jordan Eberle & Martin Jones’s “Dad Energy”
Following the birth of their children, both Jordan Eberle and Martin Jones have stepped up their game. The expression of their “Dad Energy” has helped propel the Kraken to several victories down the stretch.
For Eberle, the birth of his son Deacon has sparked a nice little scoring run. Since Eberle and his wife Lauren welcomed their son on Oct. 28, he has recorded nine points in 10 games. Perhaps the most important goal, however, was the one he scored on the 29th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Prior to the game, he mentioned to reporters how nice it would be to score for his newborn son, admitting that such an important life event puts a little extra jump in your step.
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Jones and his wife Alex also welcomed a baby boy, Rory, on Oct. 28, which also signaled the start of a very strong run for him. In the nine starts since Rory’s birth, Jones has a 7-1-1 record and a .933 save percentage over that time. Statistics aside, his play has also given the Kraken a boost after goaltending had already begun to raise questions early in the season.
Thrilling Comeback Against the Flames
After a loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 27, the Kraken were in need of a good stretch of games. They kicked that stretch off with a solid win over the Penguins on the 29th, then headed north to take on the Calgary Flames on Nov. 1.
With Joey Daccord getting his first start of the season, the Kraken were looking to build off of their win over the Penguins. After a strong start saw them go up 1-0 after the first period, things started to go south. The Flames built up a 4-2 lead early in the third and appeared to be well on their way to a victory. The Kraken had other plans.
In just under five minutes, the Kraken stormed back to tie, and eventually take the lead with goals from Daniel Sprong, Yanni Gourde, and Matty Beniers. This felt like a statement win for this group and appeared to have a major effect on their play moving forward as they won six of their next eight games. Their resilience seems to have brought the team closer, as they don’t appear discouraged when trailing. Despite how early in the season it was, this game could be something the team points to in the future when looking for motivation.
OT Magic Against the Rangers & Kings
Opening a recent homestand 0-1-1, the Kraken needed a jolt to get themselves back on track. That jolt came in the form of back-to-back overtime wins on home ice against the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings.
After losing to the Winnipeg Jets in overtime just days earlier, the Kraken found themselves in yet another situation that required extra hockey against the Rangers. The Rangers had tied the game with less than three minutes left in the third, but the Kraken remained unphased. They responded by ending the game in electric fashion, with Justin Schultz beating Igor Shesterkin 3:39 into overtime.
You’d think that a third overtime game in a row would be insane, right? Well, it happened only two nights later against the Kings. Entering the third period tied at one, the Kraken gave up a shorthanded goal to Trevor Moore just 35 seconds into the period. Some teams would be entirely demoralized by that, but that wasn’t the case with the Kraken. Only 18 seconds later, Sprong tied the game at two sending Climate Pledge Arena into a frenzy. That 2-2 tie remained until the overtime period, where Eberle scored to win it. What a two-game stretch.
Brandon Tanev’s Go-Ahead Goal Against the Penguins
Playing the Penguins for the second time in a week, the Kraken looked to remain hot and win their fourth straight. It was a tight affair throughout, with Jones standing tall to keep things close. His 35 saves were one of the main reasons the Kraken left Pittsburgh with a win.
With Jones keeping things close, the score was tied for most of the contest. The Kraken had taken a lead midway through the third but gave up a tying goal to Jake Guentzel shortly after. The score remained that way for several minutes before Brandon Tanev decided he needed to take care of business.
In his first game back in Pittsburgh since being selected in the expansion draft, Tanev played the hero to down his former franchise. He missed his chance to make his return last season due to his ACL injury, but certainly made the most of it when he finally got the opportunity. He has been relentless this season, providing unlimited amounts of energy to the team whenever they need it. Adding some scoring doesn’t hurt either, and that’s exactly what he did against the Penguins. His goal at 16:21 of the third was the game-winner, propelling the Kraken to their fourth straight win.
Until the All-Star Break
The Kraken have had a very eventful first quarter of their 2022-23 season, resulting in an 11-5-3 record which puts them in second place in the Pacific Division. As mentioned earlier, for superstitious purposes, nothing will be insinuated about the 76.3% of teams who go on to make the playoffs if they sit in a spot on US Thanksgiving. All that needs to be said is that they’ve earned their current spot, and they’ll certainly continue to be competitive as the season progresses.
Record aside, the Kraken have provided fans with some outstanding moments that will stick with them for a long time. That said, the season is still young and there is a lot of time for more memories to be made. With the next proverbial benchmark falling during the All-Star Break, the Kraken have a lot to accomplish between now and then.
Until then, however, it seems safe to assume that they’re going to continue to be fun to watch and extremely driven to continue their success. Who knows, maybe more of the team will welcome new family members and suddenly double their scoring. Stranger things have happened.
Brian Finlayson is a lifelong hockey fan, and has spent recent years writing for hockey-based websites and blogs. Now, Brian joins THW as a Seattle Kraken contributor and is very excited to help cover the NHL’s newest team.
Brian spends most of his time as a student, working towards a communications & media degree at Canadian Mennonite University. He hopes to combine his loves of sports and storytelling to find a career in sports media.