It’s another week of surprises in the NHL. Some affirming, some disappointing. Some fanbases may be surprised at where they land in this article, while others may be surprised that it’s taken this long. This edition of the Weekly Lost & Found focuses on two teams who can’t buy a win, and two that can’t stop winning. Hold your breath, we’re diving in.
Lost: Seattle Kraken, Arizona Coyotes Sink Deeper Into the Standings
Kraken Inaugural Year off to a Rough Start, Struggle in Several Areas
The Seattle Kraken’s inaugural season is not off to the start they would’ve hoped. Not only are they last in the Pacific Division, but 30th in the NHL with nine points on just four wins in 15 games. They’ve lost four straight games, which is currently the longest losing streak in the NHL, and lost all three games this past week with a minus-7 goal differential.
The Kraken have two major problems, among everything else that’s gone wrong. The first being their power play. The power play is powerless. They’re 31st in the NHL with a 10.9 percent conversion percentage. Their five power-play goals, scored by four players, is 30th in the NHL.
Their goaltending has been shaky at best. They utilized three goaltenders: Philipp Grubauer being the starter, Chris Driedger the backup and Joey Daccord filling in while Drieger was injured. The trio has combined for a 3.32 goals-against average (GAA) and .873 save percentage (SV%). That’s not going to cut it. Being the starter, and a reigning Vezina nominee, Grubauer is the guy who will have to right the ship.
The Kraken have been hemorrhaging goals while also not managing to fill the net enough themselves to compensate. The Pacific Division has been a surprise so far this season. The team can’t hope to compete against some of these surprise teams, such as the Anaheim Ducks, unless they see a drastic improvement in goal. Even if the power play doesn’t start to pop off, goaltending will be what makes this team or breaks it.
The Kraken have three games this week. In the middle of a six game homestand, they need to come away with at least a win, or some points. To get swept at home would be a disastrous start. However, all but one win has come at home, so if it were going to happen anywhere, it would be at Climate Pledge Arena.
Coyotes Fully Embracing Rebuild, Still Have Some Bright Spots This Season
It’s finally time to talk about the Coyotes. Despite finding some positives on THW’s What’s Kraken, there’s a lot of pain so far this season for Coyotes fans. They’ve got a lone win and just three points, both last in the league. In addition, their 23 goals for and 59 goals against are the worst in the league.
Related: Arizona Coyotes Logo History
They managed to beat the Kraken, which may not be saying much considering how their season is going. Their 12.5 percent power play is 30th in the NHL, better than the Kraken, but their penalty kill has been dismal. Having a 65.3 percent penalty kill, 31st in the NHL, is just unacceptable.
The Coyotes are in a complete rebuild, so this was to be expected, but there are still some bright spots for the desert dogs. Goaltender Karel Vejmelka has played well in his rookie year, despite what his numbers may show. They also have 12 picks in the 2022 Draft, and eight of them are in the first two rounds.
They’re in for the long haul. It’ll be a while before this team is turning heads in a good way. They could find some diamonds in the rough, like Shayne Gostisbehere, who has 12 points in 15 games and could be on the path to rejuvenating his career following a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers.
If the Coyotes want to flip a player like him in this situation, it could help further the rebuild. Either way, despite their record, they could be an interesting team to keep an eye on. They’ve got nothing to lose.
Found: Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals Lighting Lamp and Climbing Standings
Ducks Flying Out of the Gate, Early Leader for Surprise of the Season
The Pacific Division was expected to be one of the weaker divisions in the NHL, especially with consideration to all three California teams. Seeing the Ducks second to the Edmonton Oilers by a lone point was likely not on many pundit’s bingo cards. They’re on a seven-game winning streak, and have won all four games they played this past week. They have a plus-11 goal differential over those four games.
Troy Terry has erupted and already surpassed his career high with 11 goals, and matched his career-high 20 points in 15 games. Captain Ryan Getzlaf has dipped into the fountain of youth; he’s 36 years old and second on the team with 17 points in 16 games. Two defensemen are in their top-five for scoring, and they’ve seen strong contributions from their younger players.
A major factor to the Ducks’ success has been special teams. They’ve scored the second-most power-play goals, 15, and their 28.3 conversion rate is fourth in the NHL. The penalty kill has been equally as strong, surrendering just six goals against, which is sixth in the league at 86.4 percent. Part of that is due to strong goaltending from John Gibson.
Five of the seven wins on their streak have come against teams in the bottom two of their divisions. They’ll face the Capitals and Hurricanes this week, which should be a good test to see if they can keep it going against stronger competition. If their special teams and the play of their veterans and youngsters can stay at this rate, they could be the surprise of the season.
Capitals Can’t Stop Scoring or Winning
Despite an aging core, which are concerns the Boston Bruins relate to, the Capitals have been rolling. They are riding a four-game winning streak and have won six of their last 10 games. Their 54 goals are fourth-most, and their 36 goals against are fifth-best in the NHL.
They’ve been without several players, including Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, but have seen massive contributions from Evgeny Kuznetsov coming off a down-year. His six goals and 20 points in 15 games are second only to captain Alex Ovechkin, who’s scoring goals like there’s no tomorrow… and the sky is blue. Ovechkin has 12 goals and 26 points in 15 games.
The Capitals goaltending duo of Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have played decently. Though, their numbers could be better; a 2.64 GAA and 903 SV% combined. They did see a franchise first through goalie Zach Fucale, as he posted a shutout in his NHL debut before being re-assigned to the American Hockey League (AHL). Despite these average goaltending statistics, the Capitals give their goalies enough goal support that they shouldn’t worry too much.
The Capitals look to be on track to finish where the THW staff predicted they would, in the top-3 of the Metropolitan Division. While they may want to see a bit more depth scoring, and their power play to return to its usual top-of-the-league form, there are not many indications that they’ll be slowing down any time soon.
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.