We bring you another round of Monday 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.
What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. At least let’s hope that is the case as the Kraken have lost the last two games at home in contests they easily could have won. I am not even close to hitting the panic button, but the last two losses sting. On Friday night the Kraken could not sneak one past Marc-Andre Fleury and lost 1-0 to the Minnesota Wild. Then Sunday night, Seattle let victory slip away with 4 seconds left when Blake Wheeler popped in an easy rebound on a Jets power play. Ugh… so close to snatching two points and a regulation win against a team the Kraken might find themselves competing with for a wild card spot come April.
The Kraken are still on pace for 97 points but have yet to establish a home-ice advantage. They are 3-4-2 at Climate Pledge Arena but 5-1-1 on the road. They are 1-1-1 on this homestand with another three games before hitting the road again. My hope is the Kraken can get four out of a possible six points in the remaining home games against the Rangers, Kings, and Sharks.
I am really looking forward to seeing how the Kraken fair against the Kings. As you might recall, Seattle handled the Kings 4-1 in LA in the second game of the season. The Kings are currently ahead of the Kraken in the standings, and as of Monday morning, have won four games in a row. The end of the Kraken-Kings game in LA featured a “spirited” ending, and I wonder how much of this will spill over on Saturday night.
Scrum develops after final horn between the LA Kings and Seattle Kraken.#GoKingsGo #SeaKraken #LAKvsSEA pic.twitter.com/EjiF4Mx2Dk
— LA Royalty (@LARoyalty1967) October 14, 2022
Other Kraken musings:
- The Kraken have only won one and lost eight overtime games in their history. Last year, it felt they did not have the high-end skill that favors teams in this area. They have the skill this season but have lost all three overtime games they have played.
- The penalty kill allowed two power-play goals against on Sunday, but there was a season high of seven penalty kills in the game. Prior to Sunday, the Kraken killed off 16 PK’s in a row.
- The seven penalty kills in the Winnipeg Jets game was a Seattle Kraken record of the most times shorthanded in a game. Hopefully that record sticks for a long time.
- I said it a few weeks ago and will say it again; the Kraken are a playoff team.
- On Sunday, Gustav Olofsson became the first Coachella Valley Firebird skater to get called up and play for the Kraken. His game against the Jets would mark his 60th NHL game and the first since 2019-20. He played well in the few games I saw him play with the Firebirds but what stuck out was his fun interactions with the young fans during warmups. I love that and will be rooting for him to score his first NHL goal soon.
- Matty Beniers has not registered a point since his point streak was broken in the game against the Wild in Minnesota. That is his longest point drought of his career. There is obviously no room for concern there, but I would love to see him get it going again.
- Matty also has just two power-play points on the season, which is a little surprising considering he is second on the team in power-play time on ice.
- If you predict something long enough, eventually it will be true. Oliver Bjorkstrand is bound to get hot. He has just one goal, and his shooting percentage is a brutally low 2 percent. Over the last four seasons, his shooting percentage was 13 percent.
- Will Borgen is getting more likeable every game. He plays a very physical style and never hesitates to get in the mix when there is any kind of dustup. Last season he played just 16 of the Kraken’s first 61 games, and it was not until after the trade deadline when the Kraken traded Jeremy Lauzon and Mark Giordano that Borgen would find himself as a regular in the Kraken lineup. He has really impressed me this season, and by the looks of it so far, has a future with the Kraken.
Solid D by Borgen. Works to get back from behind the play, knocks Beckman off the puck. #SeaKraken pic.twitter.com/CknmPo0Qaa
— Alison (@AlisonL) November 12, 2022
- The Los Angeles Kings assigned 19-year-old Brandt Clarke to the AHL for a “conditioning assignment” this week. Per the transfer agreement with the CHL, Clarke is not eligible to play in the AHL this season apart from this “conditioning assignment” clause. The clause states that under 20 years old, a player can be assigned to the AHL on a conditioning assignment for no more than 14 days, provided that the player was scratched for five games in a row. The Kraken can do the same with Shane Wright this season and Sunday marked his third scratch in a row.
- On Thursday last week, the Kraken claimed Magnus Hellberg on waivers and sent Joey Daccord down to Coachella. This was a strategic defensive move. Daccord had been called up from the Firebirds since Philipp Grubauer’s injury on Oct. 21. Because Daccord cleared waivers earlier this year, he does not require waivers again unless he is on the NHL roster more than 30 days. He was coming up on that milestone, so strategically, the Kraken sent Daccord down and will use Hellberg as the backup to Jones until Grubauer returns.
- Speaking of Grubauer, the Kraken also added him to the long-term injured reserve list retroactive to Oct. 22. This is another strategic move to bank some salary cap space. I will not get into it here, but this gives the Kraken some flexibility down the road to spend above the cap number should they need it later this season. Grubauer has been on the ice and appears to be nearing a return.
- Not Kraken related, but don’t forget about the USA-Canada Rivalry Series game coming up this Sunday at CPA. That game will be intense, and I am hearing that it might set a US record for the highest attendance for a female hockey game. I would love to see Seattle own that record.
- Since flying south from their Seattle residency, the Firebirds are 2-0-0, winning both games in a two-game set against the Tucson Roadrunners. The Firebirds are now 7-3-0 and have the highest point percentage in the AHL’s Pacific Division.
- The points leader for Coachella is Andrew Poturalski. He has 18 points in 10 games so far this season. The 28-year-old center is in his eighth year of pro hockey. He has four NHL games in his career.
- I don’t know if there are any of you that might head to Palm Springs for the holidays, but the Firebirds home opener is set for Dec. 18 against the Tucson Roadrunners at the brand new Acrisure Arena.
Top player performances
Jordan Eberle – After a slightly cold start, Eberle is starting to heat up. He has three goals in the last three games.
Martin Jones – His record might be 1-1-1 over the last three games, but he is giving the Kraken every opportunity to win games with a save percentage of .934 over that span.
Jack Eichel – Four goals over his last three games, including a hat trick against his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, in Buffalo.
Goal(s) of the week
On the docket
New York Rangers – Thursday, Nov. 17, at Climate Pledge Arena
Another great test for the Kraken and a benchmark for how they stack up. The Kraken have only played four games against the Eastern Conference and have a 3-1-0 record. The Rangers are proving last season was not a fluke and will be a challenging opponent. The Kraken have never beaten the Rangers.
Rangers Current Record: 8-6-3
Players to watch:
Adam Fox – Fox is the new breed of defensemen making an impact on the league. He has eight points in his last four games. He had the game winner against the Kraken last season when the Rangers visited CPA.
Mika Zibanejad – Let us hope we don’t see much from Mika on Thursday night, but he can put up some monster games and is generally a pretty fun player to watch.
Los Angeles Kings – Saturday, Nov. 19, at Climate Pledge Arena
Going into the season, I figured the Kings were set to regress this season, and if there is a 2021-22 playoff team from the Pacific that would not make the playoffs this season, I thought the Kings would be that team. The Kings have won four in a row and have points in eight of their last 10 games. They are currently ahead of the Kraken in the standings so a win would be very encouraging on the playoff prospects for the Kraken.
Kings Current Record: 10-6-1
Players to watch:
Brendan Lemieux – Not the most skilled player, but he and Yanni Gourde got into it all night last time they played in October. Expect more of the same on Saturday night.
Gabriel Vilardi – After splitting the season with the Kings AHL affiliate last season, he is a prime reason for why the Kings are on the upswing. He has 10 goals in 17 games which is a bit crazy considering he is known for his passing ability.
The Firebirds play 6 games in 14 days beginning December 2nd… just ahead of World Juniors.