The Seattle Kraken fell short in their first revenge game against the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-2. They have now sunk further into the deep, sitting in last place in the Pacific Division with a 4-8-1 record, while the Knights have climbed to sixth at 7-6-0.
It was another game in which the Kraken could’ve seized momentum and carried it forward but let it slip away. When they get slightly comfortable, they tend to leave the door open a crack, and their opponents kick it open. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we go from analogies to analysis. Here are three takeaways.
Kraken Special Teams Break Even Against Golden Knights
The Kraken’s powerless power play finally broke through against the Golden Knights. They scored their fourth power-play goal of the season on their first power play of the game and it put Seattle up less than five minutes in.
The power play was 1-for-4, and Seattle needed to capitalize on those chances, given the final score. Jordan Eberle scored on the man advantage with the help of a newly-returned Marcus Johansson and Alex Wennberg, which could be a step in the right direction.
THW’s Adam Kierszenblat wrote that the Kraken’s big guns were brought in to generate offense, and they’re not doing that on the power play. My glass-half-full says that, hey, they scored a power-play goal, and it’s about time. However, Seattle’s only had five shots on four power plays. That’s bad. They need Eberle, Wennberg, and Jaden Schwartz to bring what they offer at 5-on-5 to the power play to see any real improvement.
On the other side, the Golden Knights also have one of the league’s worst power plays, but the Kraken let them capitalize. Vegas finished 1-for-2 on the power play, and Reilly Smith’s power-play goal, his second goal in 46 seconds, gave them the two-goal cushion they needed to seal the game.
The Golden Knights’ power play is at 11.5%, ranked fifth-worst in the NHL, while the Kraken’s penalty kill is 20th at 79.3%. While that number isn’t great, Seattle needed to kill off that penalty when trailing by a goal, but they couldn’t.
They aren’t scoring enough at even strength for their special teams to fail them this badly. The power play has taken some heat over the past few weeks, and rightfully so. However, the penalty kill has given up a power-play goal in four straight games. Something needs to be done, and soon or else, 4-2 games will start to look a lot uglier.
Kraken’s Trouble Starting and Closing Periods Highlights Inconsistencies
Seattle had a better start; it was them who scored within the first 10 minutes, though they struggled to close out the period against the Golden Knights, allowing a goal within the final 30 seconds of the first and second periods.
What’s worse, Evgenii Dadonov’s late second-period goal came 15 seconds after Yanni Gourde scored. Not only did it spark the Golden Knights, but it completely took the wind out of the Kraken’s sails after they dominated the period with a 70.97% Corsi for percentage and a 78.57% scoring chances for percentage.
The momentum from the Dadonov goal carried into the start of the third, and culminated in Smith’s two goals in 46 seconds, under 90 seconds in. Vegas had more high-danger chances for than the Kraken (3 vs. 0) and did what the Kraken couldn’t: find twine.
Seattle hasn’t been able to find the middle ground and play a complete game from start to finish. They’ve either played from behind early on or seen their inability to score, especially on special teams, come back to bite them in the tentacles. The scoring will come, but at what point do we start to question team chemistry?
It’s been 13 games, so it would be asinine to suggest that drastic changes need to be made. Gourde said the Kraken didn’t play to their identity against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Their inconsistency and struggles off the hop may indicate that it’s too early for them to know what that identity is.
Kraken Goaltending Struggles Continue
Chris Driedger returned from injury against the Golden Knights and had some good moments but also made some mistakes that cost the team dearly. The overarching problem here is that the Kraken’s goaltending is struggling as much as their skaters.
Philipp Grubauer, Driedger, and Joey Daccord, who started two games during Driedger’s absence and has since returned to the minors, have a combined 3.49 goals-against average (GAA) and .858 save percentage (SV%). That is not going to cut it.
Seattle needs help in virtually every department, and soon. Given their offensive struggles, their goaltending needs to be on point, but it isn’t. As we’ve said before in “3 Takeaways” pieces, Grubauer’s play will make or break the team.
With Grubauer as the starter, Driedger needs to capitalize when he gets the nod. By the way the team has been playing, he’ll definitely have to steal a few games.
Carson Soucy was one of two Kraken defensemen with an even rating against Vegas. He didn’t score but led all skaters with seven hits while adding two shots and a block. The Kraken out-chanced the Golden Knights 9-4 when he was on the ice.
Joonas Donskoi has flown under the radar this season. He tallied his sixth assist of the campaign and added a hit and a takeaway in just over 20 minutes of ice time. He was heavily relied on for special teams and earned 4:01 of power-play time and 91 seconds of penalty-killing time.
Kraken Need to Take a Stand at the Start of Their Homestand
The Kraken head home for a six-game homestand and kick things off against divisional rivals the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have been a surprise, as the THW staff predicted they would finish last in the Pacific Division, but they are third with a 7-4-3 record, including a 2-2-2 road record.
Troy Terry has burst onto the scene as the Ducks’ leading goal and point scorer with nine goals and 16 points in 13 games, including an overtime winner against the Vancouver Canucks. He is riding a 12-game point streak, with a point in every game except the season opener. They’ve seen strong leadership from a handful of 30-plus-year-old veterans in captain Ryan Getzlaf, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Adam Henrique, who all have double-digit points.
The Kraken will have their hands full on the defensive end. The Ducks are third in the NHL with 45 goals for; their offense is firing on all cylinders. Despite strong play from their starter John Gibson, backup Anthony Stolarz has struggled. They’ve given up 39 goals, ranked eighth in the league.
Seattle’s goal-scoring troubles clearly won’t be solved overnight or even over many nights. If they leave their goalie out to dry against the Ducks, their losing streak is bound to continue. If they don’t turn things around during this homestand, the light at the end of the tunnel will go dark a lot sooner than the Kraken would like.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.