We are introducing a new feature on Sound Of Hockey called Monday Morning Musings. It will be a collection of random thoughts and observations about the last week of activity from the hockey world with an emphasis on the Kraken and other Puget Sound teams. If you have suggestions or feedback, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them to us directly on twitter.
- After three games, but we still do not know how good this team is going to be this season. If you told me the Kraken would capture three out of six points in the opening three games to start the season, I would have been happy. But how they got the points leaves me scratching my head. They looked great in Anaheim and Los Angeles and then laid an egg in the home opener against Vegas, so it is hard to get a good read on what this team is capable of this season.
- I am not sure the next three games will give us any more clarity. This might be one of the tougher three-game stretches of the 2022-23 campaign. Carolina, St. Louis, and Colorado were a collective 159-87 last season and 6-2 versus the Kraken. Getting at least three points in these next three games would be very encouraging.
- Speaking of encouraging, the Kraken power play looks much better this season with power-play goals in each of the first three games and a power-play success rate of 38 percent compared to last season’s 15 percent. It is still early, but let’s celebrate positives where we can.
- Shane Wright was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row Saturday. Obviously, if the team is going to scratch him more often than play him, they should send him to the OHL, but let us see how the next couple weeks play out before we start demanding he be sent down. Over the last three seasons, only Cole Sillinger played more than 70 games in the season immediately after his draft. With this in mind, yes, Wright could be sent back, but we should be patient here instead of immediately grabbing our pitchforks.
- It was a little surprising to see Martin Jones get the start in net for the home opener on Saturday night. He did have a good game against the Kings on Thursday, and although not overly tested, he did make some timely saves when the boys needed it. On Saturday night, Jones did allow a few bad goals, but he is not the reason the Kraken lost. Regardless, I expect Grubauer to get most of the starts over the next week to settle into his crease.
- After an injury plagued 2021-22 season, it is great to see Jaden Schwartz back on the ice. He has two power-play goals in the first three games and hopefully he can keep it rolling.
- The Coachella Valley Firebirds played and won their first game in franchise history on Sunday afternoon. It was a little sketchy, but it is always better to win ugly than lose pretty. The Firebirds had a 5-1 lead halfway through the second period, only to see the Calgary Wranglers claw back to make it a one-goal game with five minutes left in the third. Joey Daccord kept the Wranglers out of the net for the last few minutes and clinched the first ever franchise victory. As a reminder, the Firebirds will have four games in the Seattle area but only two of them will have regular tickets available: Sunday, Oct. 23, at Climate Pledge Arena and Friday, Oct. 28, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.
- Former Tri-City American and current Detroit Red Wings center Michael Rasmussen kicked off his 2022-23 season in style with a three-point night in the Wings game against Montreal on Friday night.
- After missing the entire pre-season, former Everett Silvertips standout goalie, Carter Hart, saved 35 of 37 shots in the Philadelphia Flyers’ first game of the season.
- We are all rooting for Mason Marchment this season after the hockey world tragically lost his father, Bryan, right before the NHL Entry Draft in July. Mason has three goals in two games with the Dallas Stars.
On the docket
As mentioned above, the Kraken have a challenging three games coming up this week. Here is the rundown.
Carolina Hurricanes – Monday, Oct. 17, at Climate Pledge Arena
The Canes are a legitimate cup contender this year and will be a benchmark game for the Kraken. Seattle will need to get Saturday night’s game out of its system and what better way to do it than beating a team that is widely considered one of the best in the league?
Hurricanes Current Record: 2-0-0
Players to watch:
- Brent Burns –traded to Carolina from San Jose this offseason, Burns continues to be a fun player to watch. He is not afraid to jump up in the play and create offense…for both teams. Burns plays fast and loose, which makes his time on the ice entertaining to say the least.
- Seth Jarvis – The 20-year-old former Portland Winterhawk and friend of the Sound Of Hockey podcast is an up and comer in this league with a bit of flash. Jarvis plays the bulk of his minutes with Sebastian Aho and is capable of creating highlight-reel goals.
St. Louis Blues – Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Climate Pledge Arena
The Blues are coming off a 109-point campaign in the 2021-22 season with very few changes to the roster. Most analysts have them as a lock for the playoffs for 2022-23. The Blues went 3-0 against the Kraken last year and outscored them 11-2 in those three games.
Blues current record: 1-0-0
Players to watch:
- Robert Thomas – strong two-way player that can score and dish the puck. He is coming off a career season in 2021-22 with 77 points (20G/57A) over 72 games.
- Jake Neighbours – 2022-23 will be the former first-round draft pick’s rookie season. Neighbours had 45 points in just 30 games last year with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. Along with Thomas, Neighbours is projected to be one of the future cornerstones of the Blues.
Colorado Avalanche – Friday, Oct. 21, at Ball Arena, Denver
They are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions and a favorite to win it again this season. The Avalanche did lose Andre Burakovsky to the Kraken and Nazim Kadri to the Flames, so that is 50 goals lost in the offseason. Still, they should be just fine.
Avalanche current record: 1-1-0
Players to watch:
- Cale Makar – there are about eight players on the Avalanche worth focusing on, but Cale Makar is one of the best, if not the best defenseman in the NHL. He is so exciting to watch on both ends of the ice and is truly an innovative player that is changing the position.
- Alex Newhook – only 21 years old, Newhook spent last season bouncing around the third and fourth lines. With the departure of Kadri, he will get more opportunity this season including some power-play time. Newhook might be a year or two away from a breakout, but the foundations are there, and he has the capability to make some dazzling plays.
Chart of the week
Three games is not a big sample, but if the Kraken expect to be more competitive, the power play is one area it must improve over last year. Early signs are encouraging.
Beyond the NHL
Outside of the Kraken organization, there are quite a few Pacific Northwest teams that are playing good hockey in their respective leagues. In the WHL, the Seattle Thunderbirds, Everett Silvertips, and Portland Winterhawks are a collective 21-2 and are outscoring their opponents 115-69. If you want to circle a game on the calendar, you might want to consider the Nov. 5 game when Portland visits Seattle for the first time this season.
The Thunderbirds look pretty stacked right now with five NHL-drafted players on their roster, but another name people should keep an eye on is Gracyn Sawchyn. Sawchyn is eligible for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and is off to a fast start with 11 points in 7 games. Some say he could be drafted in the first round of the draft in July.
Finally, the Seattle Totems (USPHL – Junior A) and Washington Huskies (ACHA) are off to hot starts. The Totems, who play out of Olympic View Ice Center in Montlake Terrace are 7-3 and have outscored opponents 50-36. Meanwhile, the Huskies, who play out of Kraken Community Iceplex are 4-2. If you are looking for some fun and affordable hockey to watch, consider supporting these players in what should be entertaining hockey.