The Seattle Kraken have put together a nice stretch of games and beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Saturday night in the second half of a back-to-back. The victory gives them wins in three of their last four games after drowning on a six-game losing streak.
The win followed a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, and all of their recent victories have come against top-five teams in the NHL: the Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and Panthers. Here are three takeaways.
Jordan Eberle Scores Twice in 800th NHL Game
During his first 10 games this season, Eberle struggled and only managed two goals and four points. However, over his last 11 games, he’s popped off nine goals and 12 points, including two goals in his 800th-career game against the Panthers.
This is exactly what the Kraken have been looking for from him; to be one of their go-to offensive producers. He leads the team with 11 goals and is tied with Jaden Schwartz’s 16 points. Eberle is on pace to score over 40 goals this season. He hasn’t hit the 30-goal mark since his sophomore season with the Edmonton Oilers. While he may cool off, scoring 25 or 30 goals this season could be life-saving for Seattle.
Only three Kraken players, including Eberle, have scored more than five goals this season. Offense was the main reason he was brought to Seattle, as he once had five straight seasons with 20-plus goals. After a slower start, he’s finally filling the shoes he was meant to fill and needs to keep it up for the team to have any chance at success.
Kraken Dominate Faceoffs and See It Pay Off
The Kraken also beat the Panthers in the faceoff circle with a commanding 72% faceoff percentage (FO%). Although the Pathers rank 31st in the NHL with a 45.1 FO% and Seattle is 16th with a 49.9 FO%. Of Kraken players who took two or more faceoffs, they tallied 50% or higher, including Morgan Geekie’s 79 FO% and Alex Wennberg’s 81 FO%. Both players won over 10 faceoffs.
Seattle won 18-of-25 defensive zone draws, which was key in limiting Florida to one goal. The Panthers’ 77 goals-for are the most in the NHL, so gaining possession in the defensive zone off the draw directly contributed to their victory.
Chris Driedger Shuts Door Against Former Team
Coming into his first tilt against his former team, Driedger had played just three games as a Kraken, starting two. His numbers were nothing like those he had as a Panther; an 0-2 record with a .791 save percentage (SV%) while giving up nine goals.
In his return to Florida, he shut the door, allowing just one goal on 34 shots, and spoiled their attempt to set a new record for home wins to start a season. So, what does this mean for Driedger? His first Kraken game was after Philipp Grubauer was pulled against the Philadelphia Flyers, and he lost his second to Vegas, giving up four goals, and he gave up four goals and was pulled against the Colorado Avalanche Yet, he managed to beat the most prolific goal-scoring team in the NHL.
While Grubauer’s 16 starts make it apparent that he’s the starter, it’s time for Driedger to play a bigger role than as the occasional backup. Yes, he missed time and two potential starts due to injury, but for the Kraken to have any consistent success, the two goalies need to work in tandem.
Head coach Dave Hakstol needs to see this and put his faith in Driedger to be a 1B rather than a backup. He’s under contract with a modified no-trade clause through the 2023-24 season, so they’ll have to rely on him at some point during that stretch, and they need to start now.
Will Borgen wasn’t on many people’s minds to make the Kraken’s opening-night roster, let alone get into a game this season. Yet, he made his debut against the Panthers and played a noticeably strong game. In the least amount of ice time of any defender, 13:51, he led all skaters with five blocks and added a shot on goal. He also played just under a minute on the penalty kill.
Ryan Donato scored the Kraken’s game-winning goal, his third of the season, as one of his three shots and added a block against the Cats. He played over a minute on the power play and is on pace to set a career-high in points. He’s been a solid low-cost, high-reward signing this season.
Kraken Face Sabres for the Second Time This Season
The Kraken head up to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Monday. The Sabres have played better than expected, but the Kraken need to take care of business to keep themselves heading on the right track.
This run has helped take some of the sting off that six-game losing streak, but they still have a lot of ground to make up. Last time out, the Kraken beat the Sabres 5-2, and Eberle had a hat trick. They should try to keep things rolling and working their way back up the Pacific Division standings.
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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.