The Seattle Kraken love making history against the Buffalo Sabres. In their first matchup, it was the franchise’s first hat trick. In this one, a 7-4 win, it was not just their first shorthanded goal, but their first multi-shorthanded goal game. It was also the first time they’ve scored more than five goals in a road game. They’ve now won four of their last five games, all following an abysmal six-game losing streak.
Despite the obvious, history-crafting pros, there were still some things the Kraken need to work on, and questions arose from this tilt. Let’s get started.
Kraken Defense Provides Offensive Boost
The Kraken scored a franchise-high seven goals against the Sabres, and while only one came from the blue line, their defensemen’s willingness to join the offense helped drive the bus forward. The team’s defenders combined for a goal and three assists, split between four players.
A stat that really jumped out was how many shots they were getting on goal. They combined for 13-of-32 Kraken shots on goal. One of Jamie Oleksiak’s three shots generated a rebound, which led to Jared McCann’s first of two goals. Haydn Fleury and Vince Dunn also each had three shots on goal. Honorable mention goes to Will Borgen, who in his second game as a Kraken tallied his first NHL point with an assist in his return to Buffalo.
It’s interesting to see how Oleksiak is climbing up the ranks of defensive scoring for the Kraken, being more of a defensive-minded player. He is on pace for a new career-high in points this season.
Despite being a healthy scratch on several occasions, Carson Soucy’s three goals is tied for team lead in goals by a defenseman with captain Mark Giordano. Soucy’s goal against Buffalo was the first shorthanded goal in franchise history.
It’s a good sign that the Kraken’s defense is contributing to their offense. While some players are starting to click up front, it can provide stability and help take the pressure off their forwards to light the lamp every night. Even something as simple as just getting shots through, as evidenced by Oleksiak’s goal, will help the team greatly going forward.
Chris Driedger Starts Two Straight for First Time This Season
Do the Kraken have a goalie controversy on their hands? Driedger started his second game in a row and has won both, the first being a victory over the Florida Panthers. Against the Sabres, his four goals against don’t look the best on paper, but it’s what’s in the fine print that helps paint a different picture.
He allowed two goals in each the second and third period, respectively. In the second period, the Sabres had nine scoring chances-for (SCF), for a 64.29 scoring chances-for percentage (SCF%). Of those, seven were high danger chances-for (HDCF) for a 63.64 high danger chances-for percentage (HDCF%).
Similarly, in the third period, the Sabres out-chanced and out-high danger chanced the Kraken. They had eight SCF, 72.73 SCF%, and three HDCF, 60 HDCF%, all according to Natural Stat Trick. How much of this is really on Driedger? One or two he definitely should have stopped, but the Kraken allowed the Sabres to stay in the game by giving up these types of chances, among other reasons.
While one could argue that Philipp Grubauer has been overworked and could use a rest, Driedger starting two games in a row was a surprise. This could be the start of his elevation from backup to 1B. If it is, controversy or not, the Kraken Faithful should welcome it with open tentacles.
Kraken Allowed Sabres To Stay Alive Down to the End
The Kraken scored seven goals in a game for the first time in franchise history. Yet, the Sabres made it a closer contest than it really could have been. There were three factors that contributed to this.
The Kraken looked like they’d come into the NHL as one of the more physical teams this season. They even had a handful of fights in the early parts of the season. The Sabres out-hit them by more than double, 21-9. Brandon Tanev led the way for the Kraken with four hits, the only player to record multiple hits.
Despite a very strong faceoff performance against Florida, the Kraken lost that battle to the Sabres, only winning 47% of their draws. Alex Wennberg was the only player to win at least half his faceoffs.
They may have scored two shorthanded goals, but the Kraken was the only penalized team. They took four penalties and surrendered one goal. While the shorthanded goals offset the power-play tally against, scoring one, let alone multiple, shorthanded goals is usually the exception, not the rule. While it worked out against the Sabres, this isn’t something the Kraken can afford to make habitual.
When you can put up a touchdown, plus extra point’s worth of goals, more often than not you’re going to win. However, most of the time if you allow opportunities for your opponent to stay alive, it could lead to a favorable outcome. Physically matching your opponent, winning faceoffs and being disciplined are things the Kraken need to take out of this game, aside from pride in their historical accomplishments.
The first shoutout couldn’t be contained to just one player. Since we make the rules, we’re going with a whole line. The Jared McCann/Morgan Geekie/Brandon Tanev Line was outstanding. Tanev’s 17:53 time on ice led all Kraken forwards, and his three points all scorers. McCann scored two goals on four shots and Geekie added two assists. They were listed as the third line, but played like the first.
Mason Appleton had missed 11 games due to a lower body injury, and has finally found twine for the Kraken in his fourth game back in the lineup. He scored two goals, including an empty netter, on two shots against Buffalo. It was his first points since recording an assist in the second game of the season. He saw 16:50 time on ice playing to the right of Alex Wennberg and Marcus Johansson on the second line, and could produce eleven more if he sticks in that slot.
Kraken Head to Motown
The Kraken will finish their east coast swing with a trip to face-off against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The Wings will be on the second half of a back-to-back, returning home after a trip to Boston. They’ve been a bit of a surprise this season, and are fighting for a wild card spot. Don’t expect them to be the sub-20 win team of the past few seasons.
“Leaving Boston with a victory would give further notice that maybe the Wings are closer to being for real than most analysts felt they would be. It would keep Detroit in the upper half of the standings”From “Red Wings set for big early season test against Bruins” by Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News, 11/29/21.
They’ve become an interesting team with some fun, young pieces. The Kraken should look to their veterans to lead the way against the Wings, and it’ll be interesting to see if Driedger makes his third start in a row, or if head coach Dave Hakstol goes back to Grubauer. Either way, this will be an exciting game to watch.
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.