There’s an old theory in hockey that a team’s best penalty killer needs to be its goaltender. Seattle Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer proved that true and then some Tuesday in Vancouver.
Grubauer made 38 saves during a 4-0 shutout against the Canucks, but it was on the penalty kill where he was at his best. Vancouver outshot the Kraken 29-17 through the first two periods but would end the night 0-for-4 on the power play, thanks to Grubauer.
He was especially brilliant during a second period Canucks power play where Vancouver blistered the Seattle net with 7 shots. These weren’t chances from the outside or bad angles. They were in close, and they were of the ‘Grade A’ variety. Grubauer stopped them all and didn’t appear to break a sweat in doing so.
It was like that all night for Grubauer who would end with 12 saves while his team was shorthanded.
The exceptional goaltending allowed the Kraken to score three goals in the second period, two coming on their own power play, in a game that was filled with special teams as the two teams combined for 11 power play chances. Grubauer’s play was a continuation of his performance all through camp and the fact he looked dialed in Tuesday suggests that the Kraken goal crease is in good hands.
Vince Dunn paces the Kraken offense
With Grubauer keeping the puck out of his net, defenseman Vince Dunn was filling the Canucks cage.
He got the scoring going with a power-play goal in the second period on a big slap shot from the point. Dunn put Seattle up 2-0 later in the period when he jumped into the rush and found space in the high slot. Jared McCann got him the puck and he scored with a snap shot.
Having Dunn scoring is big news for the Kraken, who need to find secondary scoring. In the six preseason games they have leaned on the McCann, Jaden Schwartz, and Jordan Eberle line and have yet to get consistent scoring from anyone else. Getting Dunn or Mark Giordano chipping in from the blue line will be a big boost.
Dunn, 24, has always been an offensive threat and with three goals in six preseason games, he appears ready for another strong season.
Special teams clicking for Kraken
Seattle scored on two of its seven opportunities Tuesday and looked dangerous all night. The team didn’t spend too much time in camp working on special teams, but they played well during the six exhibition games.
Along with Grubauer, special teams were key to the win against the Canucks because at five-on-five, which accounted for 36 minutes of game play, Vancouver held a 42-26 advantage in shot attempts.
Mark Giordano continues to be a beast for Kraken
The 37-year-old defenseman led all Kraken with 22:39 of ice time and did it at high energy. He’s on the top defensive pairing, top power play, and is one of Seattle’s top penalty killers. Giordano shows no signs of slowing down.
With seven power-play chances, the Kraken’s top unit got a workout in. Schwartz logged 7:50 of time on the power play while Eberle, McCann and Alex Wennberg each joined Schwartz for over seven minutes.
The NHL is emphasizing calling cross-checking penalties to the letter of the law. As a result, it’s become the trendy preseason penalty. Tuesday, Seattle and Vancouver combined for five cross-checking penalties.
Seattle ends its preseason schedule with a 4-2 record.
While the Kraken preseason is over, they will continue to put the work in. The team has practice scheduled every day but this coming Sunday in preparation for the Oct. 12 season start in Las Vegas.
Ryan Donato scored the Kraken’s third goal, on a second-period power play, and led the team in shots with five. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat put eight shots on Grubauer.
Giordano, Tanev and Geeke, have been impressive. Mark is in remarkable shape and seems at age 37, not to have lost anything from his game. Chris is tireless, a hard worker and has a motor. He reminds me of the way Scott Ensor used to be with the T-Birds. I believe Morgan, is going to have a breakout season for the Kraken.