We bring you another round of Monday Morning Musings, where we share a random collection of thoughts and observations about the last week from the hockey world with an emphasis on the Kraken and other Puget Sound teams. Enjoy.
At the beginning of the season, if you would have told me the Kraken would have six points in their first seven games, I would have been ok with it; not happy, just ok. Before the season started, the schedule over the first two weeks looked like a murderer’s row of opponents, so salvaging six points would have been fine.
Fast forward to today, and now I am just perplexed. I cannot figure this team out. They were the better team in Anaheim and looked great in LA the next night, only to lay consecutive eggs at home against the Vegas Golden Knights and Carolina Hurricanes.
They rebounded by earning a point against a very good St. Louis Blues team and then looked looked great against the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. Things were looking up until an ugly loss Sunday. At times the Kraken dominated the gameplay, but mistake after mistake kept the Blackhawks around until they managed to score two goals within 13 seconds to take the lead in the third period. As one great podcast said, there are just a lot of weird vibes around the team right now.
- No one is really talking about it, but I am starting to worry about the Kraken penalty kill. The team has allowed nine power-play goals against and has a 64 percent penalty-kill percentage. That is third worst in the league.
- After the Kraken scored the first goal of the game Sunday, I was excited to talk about the value of scoring first. Last season the Kraken were plagued by allowing the first goal and were constantly playing from behind. During the 2021-22 season, the Kraken scored first in 31 of the 82 games and had a .484 win percentage when doing so versus a .235 win percentage when allowing the first goal against. Sunday’s game was just the third time the Kraken have scored first this season, and they won the prior two times. That is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
- Scoring is up! The Kraken are averaging 3.0 goals per game compared to last year’s first seven games where they averaged 2.571 goals. It is still early, but that is encouraging.
- Jordan Eberle has yet to score a goal this season, but it is not for a lack of trying. He has had some golden opportunities, so it should just be a matter of time. Expect him to get of the schneid this week.
- Luckily for the Kraken, a lot of the teams in the Pacific Division have some bad vibes going on right now. Vancouver, Anaheim, and San Jose are a collective 3-14-3, and the Kings are 3-4-0. All three are below the Kraken right now in the standings. Hopefully that helps you sleep at night.
- It will be interesting to see if goaltender Joey Daccord draws into a game this week for the Kraken. For those that might have missed it, Daccord was called up from the Coachella Valley Firebirds after Philipp Grubauer appeared to tweak something in the Friday game against Colorado. We are all big fans of Daccord, and after a stellar year in the AHL last season, we are eager to see him take that next step as an NHL goalie, even if it is in a temporary basis while we wait for Grubauer to return.
- Speaking of Coachella Valley, I was lucky enough to attend their two ‘home’ games over the weekend. The first game was Friday at Kraken Community Iceplex, and the second one was at Climate Pledge Arena. Both games were entertaining and were not lacking in goal scoring or drama with several lead changes in each game. A total of 18 goals were scored in those two contests.
- In Sunday’s game, Tye Kartye and Ryker Evans scored their first professional goals. Kartye was an undrafted free agent signing, and Evans was the second-round draft pick of the Kraken from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Sunday’s game also featured this amazing goal by Jesper Froden.
We're in the lead🔥 4-3 pic.twitter.com/JphzhIWMHD— Coachella Valley Firebirds (@Firebirds) October 24, 2022
The Firebirds have one more game in the area that is available to the public. It is coming up this Friday in Everett. If you have been considering checking it out, I highly recommend trying to attend.
Around the NHL
- The ageless wonder Joe Pavelski is at it again. The 38-year-old former seventh-round draft pick posted a career year last year with 81 points and has kept it rolling this season. He has seven points in five games for the Dallas Stars including a hat trick against Montreal on Saturday Night.
- Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin has registered a point in each of the six games he has played this season with six goals and five assists. ‘Big Val’ signed a new contract with Colorado this offseason for $49 million over eight years.
- Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin has scored a goal in each of the Sabres’ first five games this season, setting the record for longest goal streak to start the season by a defenseman. I really hope the Kraken are not playing the Sabres anytime soon… Oh, oops.
On the docket
Buffalo Sabres – Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Climate Pledge Arena
The Sabres are off to a hot start this season with four wins in their first five games. They swept through western Canada with wins against Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver. This should be a great benchmark game for the Kraken.
Sabres current record: 3-1-0
Players to watch:
- Alex Tuch – Tuch is a native of upstate New York and was part of the Jack Eichel trade to Vegas last year. He has six goals in five games. Tuch has a nose for the net with a little bit of a pest attitude, and I tend to hate him because he often scores goals against my teams.
- JJ Peterka – Peterka, from Germany, was drafted just outside the first round in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and was part of the draft class with fellow countrymen, Tim Stützle and Lukas Reichel. Peterka is projected to be an offensive juggernaut in the NHL and is already showcasing it this season. He has two goals and two assists in the first five games.
Vancouver Canucks – Thursday, Oct. 27, at Climate Pledge Arena
I am already nervous for this game. Nobody wants to be the team that gives the Canucks their first win of the season, especially the Kraken. In four head-to-head games last season, the Kraken never beat the Canucks. If the Kraken are going to sneak into the playoffs this season, they will need to do it at the expense of the Canucks and other struggling Pacific teams. One game in October is not going to instantly propel this team into a playoff spot, but you must bank points when you can get them, and creating more distance with division rivals is highly encouraged.
Canucks current record: 0-4-2
Players to watch:
- Bo Horvat – There are some flashier players to watch on the Canucks, but I love Horvat’s compete level. He plays hard on both ends of the ice, and it is the little things like causing turnovers or digging out pucks that I appreciate.
- Andrei Kuzmenko – Kuzmenko was a big KHL free-agent signing in the offseason with a lot of hype. Things looked promising early when he registered a goal in his first game of the season against Edmonton, but he has cooled off since, registering no points in his last three games. Kuzmenko was second in points in the KHL last season so there is potential there, but sometimes that KHL skill does not transfer to the NHL.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Saturday, Oct. 29, at Climate Pledge Arena
The only home game I missed attending last season was against the Pittsburgh Penguins… and boy was I glad I missed that one. It was one of the few ugly losses the Kraken had at home in 2021-22. Pittsburgh is still stacked with future hall of famers, and those players continue to play at an elite level. Sidney Crosby has 10 points in five games and Evgeni Malkin is averaging a point per game. The Penguins have three games between now and Saturday, but they have yet to lose in regulation. One potential benefit to the schedule is that the Penguins will be playing Friday night in Vancouver. I will not be missing this game, so hopefully that will be the difference this season.
Penguins current record: 4-0-1
Players to watch:
- Kasperi Kapanen – Obviously not one of the elite players on the team, but I still enjoy watching him fly all over the ice. He is your typical third liner that can put the puck in the net from time to time. He is averaging a point per game this season.
- Ryan Poehling – Another sleeper pick from an otherwise star-studded lineup in Pittsburgh. The 2017 first-round draft pick has yet to have a breakout season in the NHL but is still a solid overall player. Because of the depth of the Penguins roster, he is pretty much relegated to a fourth-line role.