This one had the makings of a real stinker for the Kraken, who—at least on paper—appeared to be overmatched coming in. In Thursday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks, Seattle dressed a young lineup with only a handful of roster locks, while its neighbors to the north sent out most of their regulars.
The Canucks (especially offseason signee Andrei Kuzmenko) were scoring early and often, and it felt like a game that could get away from the Kraken. To their credit, though, the young guns battled back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits and skated away with a surprising 4-3 overtime win.
Here are our Three Takeaways from Seattle’s third preseason win in as many tries.
Takeaway #1: John Hayden makes his presence known
There are several players with NHL experience battling for the last spots on the opening night roster. The thing is, those roster spots don’t really exist if Seattle’s regulars remain healthy, but… well, more on that in a bit.
One of the guys trying to at least make a name for himself is John Hayden, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound wrecking ball with 240 career NHL games under his belt. He certainly made his presence known on Thursday, mucking it up with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, dropping the gloves twice—once with Kyle Burroughs and once with Dakota Joshua—and scoring the tying goal at 12:33 of the third period.
Hayden said he couldn’t remember the last time he scored a tying goal like that. “It was ugly,” he joked. “The fights were ugly, the game got ugly at times, but I thought we stuck together and did a pretty good job.”
In all, Hayden ended the game with a goal, three shots, and 12 penalty minutes in 9:32 of ice time.
Coach Dave Hakstol took notice. “Look at John Hayden and the night that he had,” Hakstol said. “That’s a hard job. He ended up in two scraps. Fittingly, and maybe [it was] a little poetic justice, he scores the game-tying goal. That’s big.”
It was a chippy game from the start, and nights like that are great nights to have a John Hayden in your lineup. Can he earn himself a spot with the big club when camp breaks? Hayden is on a two-way deal, so our hunch is still no, but he could certainly be a call-up candidate if needed.
Takeaway #2: Komeback Kraken
We will be honest; looking at the lineups, we expected a loss for the Kraken on Thursday. When Vancouver jumped out to an early lead, then scored again, then scored again but had it negated by an offside challenge, our prediction seemed to be coming to fruition.
But the young Kraken group found its sea legs (pun intended) and pushed back in the second half of the game. The late Hayden goal sent the game to overtime, and Ryan Donato scored his second dazzling goal of the preseason to win it in overtime.
Arturs Silovs never stood a chance.
“We were on our heels for the first 20, 25 minutes of the hockey game, for sure,” Hakstol said. “They drove the momentum five-on-five, they drove the momentum with the power play, but we were able to turn that, and you know, that says a lot about the group in the dressing room.”
Martin Jones also played a big part in the victory after coming in halfway through the game to replace Joey Daccord. Daccord stopped 18 of 21 shots, while Jones stopped 15 of 15 to remain perfect in his two preseason outings.
We’ve said it plenty of times over the last week, but take preseason success with a grain of salt because positive results mean nothing in the scheme of things. Still, it is nice to see the squad battle back, even when the lineup is made up mostly with players destined for the AHL.
Takeaway #3: Stay away, injury bug!
We hate to say this, but a couple guys got banged up on Thursday. Hayden’s second fight of the night was in response to Dakota Joshua crushing Michal Kempny into the end boards behind Seattle’s net. Kempny stayed down for a bit, then skated off under his own power and headed down the tunnel. He did not return after 6:52 of ice time.
Kempny has battled back from some major leg injuries, though this looked to be upper body, just based on how he went into the boards. The veteran defenseman is one of the players fighting for a spot.
Additionally, Joonas Donskoi collided with Kole Lind in front of Seattle’s bench and exited the game after logging 9:24 on ice.
Hakstol did not have an update on either player after the game.
You never want to see players get hurt, especially in a meaningless preseason game. The Kraken dealt with injuries all season long in 2021-22, and surely they’re hoping for a mostly healthy squad when opening night rolls around.
Seattle will have a day off Friday, then return to preseason action against these same Canucks at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday. The team is expected to reveal its mascot during pre-game festivities that night.
This is the culture we want to build. Play all 60 minutes and 200 feet!
Another game, another impressive Ryker Evans performance. He played big minutes and once again looked ready. I think he’s best to go down to Coachella Valley to play on the top pairing. But if injuries for him to play is Seattle, he looks ready.
Fully agree! He led the team last night with 25:49. Based on our rudimentary math, we think the last defense spot is down to Evans, Fleury, and Kempny. We will have to wait and see how bad the injury is for Kempny, but Evans is putting himself in a good spot to at least be a first call-up option.