The Seattle Kraken returned to the ice for the first time since Jan. 1 but fell to the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. The COVID break was frustrating as most games were postponed due to arena capacity restrictions in Canada. The Kraken, who were leading going into the third period, suffered their sixth loss in a row and their ninth in the last 10 games on Monday night. Here are three takeaways from the game.
Grubauer Could Not Stop Old Team
In his return to Colorado, Philipp Grubauer played well but could not hold off a late push from the Avalanche. He made 31 saves on 35 shots but fell to 7-14-4 on the season. He was unlucky on the first and third goals, but the second and fourth were problematic. The second goal was off a rebound he could not control, and the game-winner by Nazem Kadri came from a bad angle and beat him above the blocker. The loss should not be pinned on him, but those shots need to be saved, especially the game-winner late in the third.
Despite the four goals, Grubauer did play well. Some areas still need to be cleaned up, like rebounds, but overall, he played well enough that the Kraken should have earned at least a point. He will get one more chance against his old team later this season, which hopefully will end in a victory for the former Vezina candidate.
Kraken Penalty Kill Shines
The Kraken held the Avalanche to just two shots on three power plays as they went a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. Colorado has been one of the hottest teams on the power play this season, with an efficacy rate of 24.6 percent. But Seattle’s penalty killers held their ground and kept Colorado off the scoreboard.
What was impressive about the penalty kill was the aggressiveness of the players. They got in shooting lanes and forced the Avalanche to make bad passes that were collected and cleared. The Kraken have struggled this season when shorthanded, so shutting down one of the league’s most dangerous power plays should give them some confidence that they can carry into their next few games.
McCann Leads the Way Again
The Kraken’s best player once again was Jared McCann, as he finished the game with a goal, an assist, eight shots on net, and nine scoring chances. He was also highly effective on the defense, with two takeaways, three hits, and he drew a penalty. He is now just two points off the team lead with 21 in 29 games and leads the Kraken in goals this season.
While it’s great that McCann is having one of his best seasons to date, the rest of the forwards are a problem. Jordan Eberle only generated three shots on goal, while Yanni Gourde had none. The Kraken need these two, as well as players like Alex Wennberg and Mark Giordano, to step up, especially with Brandon Tanev and Jaden Schwartz out of the lineup.
The Kraken were outshot 32 to 21 at even strength. This marked the fourth time this season they have been outshot by double digits at 5-on-5. Yes, the Avalanche are a Stanley Cup contender, but Seattle’s playmakers need to be better for them to win games. This was a big reason the Kraken lost on Monday and why they have lost six straight.
Long Layoff Leads Into Tough Schedule
The Kraken have a very difficult schedule coming up and will need to find a way to shake off this loss quickly. They have back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday night and will play 11 more games this month, including three back-to-backs. There were some positives from this game the Kraken can build on, but overall, they need to play better if they want to have a strong January.
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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.