Kraken Hope Eberle Can Keep His Two-Way Play Strong This Season

Jordan Eberle of the Seattle Kraken had a strong first half of the season. He ranks second in points with 26 in 44 games and is tied for the team lead with seven power-play points. The former Canadian World Juniors star has always been known for his offence, but this season, it is his defensive game that has taken a step forward. Here is a breakdown of the All-Star’s first half.

Eberle Stepping Up His Defensive Game

This season, Eberle is stepping up in the offensive zone, but more importantly, on defence. He is on pace to break his personal best for blocked shots and takeaways this season and leads all Kraken forwards in both categories at the All-Star break. So far this season, the Kraken have limited him to less than 30 seconds of penalty-kill time. However, based on how he is playing defensively, it may be a smart move to throw him out on the penalty kill, considering the Kraken are ranked 24th this season.

Jordan Eberle Seattle Kraken
Jordan Eberle, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When diving into Eberle’s statistics, there is some deception. Currently, he has a plus/minus of minus-16, but that is mostly due to his goaltender’s play rather than his. Using high-danger chances this season as an example, 124 high-danger chances have been created when he is on the ice at even strength. The team has only allowed 95 high-danger chances against, which normally would translate to more high-danger chance goals scored than conceded. This season, the Kraken have conceded 22 when he is on the ice compared to only scoring nine. What this means is that although he and his linemates are doing a decent job preventing high-danger scoring chances, the goaltender is allowing a goal every fourth chance. This is one of the reasons why his plus/minus is among the league’s worst despite his strong play in the defensive zone.

Eberle Needs to Recapture Scoring Touch

For most of the first half, Eberle was one of the driving forces behind Seattle’s offence. He put up 21 points in his first 29 games, which included 12 goals. Then Jaden Schwartz went down with an injury, and his scoring disappeared. The duo played almost 350 minutes together and had developed a strong chemistry on the Kraken’s first line, which has played a major role in his recent offensive decline.

Related: Seattle Kraken 2021-22 Half-Season Superlatives

Jordan Eberle at the 2012 WHC (Wikimedia Commons)

In the 15 games since Schwartz went down with a season-ending injury, Eberle has five assists and zero goals. However, the good news is he is still generating shots on goal. So far this season, he has 96 shots on goal, with 36 coming in the past 15 games. On the flip side, he has missed the net a total of 48 times this season, with 22 of those coming in the last 15 games. Whether it is bad shooting luck or lack of confidence, he needs to find his scoring form again as he is currently on pace for a 45-point season.

Strong Second Half May Lead to a Call From Canada

At this point of the season, it is clear that the Seattle Kraken are not making the playoffs. It is expected that some players will be moved out via trade and that most of the second half will be used as auditions for next season. While building chemistry for next season is always a good plan, Eberle will want to have a good end to the season as it could lead to a call from Team Canada for the World Hockey Championship. It may not be the Stanley Cup, but it will give him a chance to win another gold medal as he did in 2015.

Even though his offensive numbers are not what the Kraken had hoped for, Eberle has had a strong first half to the season. He plays hard every game, continues to do the little things right and should find the net sooner rather than later. The hope is he can find some chemistry with new linemates and show the NHL that he still has one of the most dangerous shots in the league during the second half of the season.

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