The Kraken came out—dare we say it?—flying against the Flyers on Thursday. They put the plane on cruise control and glided through to an easy 6-2 victory at Climate Pledge Arena, their first home game since Jan. 28. It was one of those nights where it seemed like everything was working for the home team and nothing was working for the visitors, as a few individuals had monster performances, and both the penalty kill and power play were clicking.
The Kraken also caught a bad Flyers team that was downright abysmal in its first game since these two teams played each other on Sunday, leading coach John Tortorella to predictably blow a gasket in his post-game presser.
The Kraken needed that one. They took just three out of a possible 10 points on their recent five-game road trip, and things are very compressed atop the Pacific Division right now. By winning this one, Seattle kept pace at two points back of Vegas, which squeaked by San Jose Thursday. Meanwhile, the Kraken took back a one-point lead on Los Angeles and a two-point lead on Edmonton, both of which were idle. Calgary lost again, so Seattle now has a comfortable seven-point cushion on the Flames.
Here are our Three Takeaways from a thorough Kraken whooping of the Flyers.
Takeaway #1: Gourde and McCann were the stars
Everyone contributed on this night, and those are the games when Seattle is at its best. But we thought there were a couple players who were especially impactful in Yanni Gourde and Jared McCann.
We asked coach Dave Hakstol if any individuals stood out to him, but he wasn’t willing to single out anyone specifically.
“Guys were ready to play,” Hakstol said. “I know the guys that had points, and I know the guys that played well defensively individually on the back end, all of that. But am I going to single one or two guys out in a good team win? No, I’m not.” That’s quite alright, because we’re more than happy to point out that Gourde and McCann had stellar performances.
Gourde got rewarded in a big way for his unrelenting work ethic, scoring two goals and adding an assist. McCann only had one point—more on that point in a moment—but he was noticeable every time he was on the ice.
McCann got things going in the right direction for Seattle in this game with a herculean shift on the penalty kill. Like in Philadelphia on Sunday, the Kraken took an early penalty when Ryan Donato got tied up with Cam York in the neutral zone. But unlike on Sunday, Seattle turned that PK into a positive, thanks to McCann.
Just moments after painfully blocking a shot, McCann stole the puck from Kevin Hayes at the blue line and took off on a two-on-one with Gourde. McCann didn’t think twice about passing, instead rifling it past Carter Hart to make it 1-0 at 3:01.
“We’ve been working on the PK a lot,” said McCann. “Obviously, it’s not something I’m particularly good at, but I’m trying. I was able to kind of get in the lane there for the blocked shot, and then I kind of read— I thought he was going to shoot again, so I thought if I could get my stick on it, I could maybe deflect it, and I did.”
It was interesting to hear McCann say he doesn’t think the PK is a strength of his—which makes sense, since he’s not what you would envision for a PK guy—because that was the perfect shift.
It wasn’t just that one shift that made McCann stand out, though. He had a couple other good looks, set up Jaden Schwartz for a point-blank opportunity, drew a penalty, and was even involved in some extracurriculars after the whistle. He was awesome.
Gourde, meanwhile, had his best game as a Kraken. With a delayed penalty coming, Seattle maintained possession for an extended period and a 6-on-5 advantage. A nice passing play ended with Gourde tipping a Justin Schultz shot in to make it 2-0.
He didn’t get a point for Schultz’s power-play goal in the second period, but it was Gourde providing the screen to take Hart’s eyes away on that one as well.
He wasn’t done yet. He made a classy pass through the neutral zone to spring Oliver Bjorkstrand on a breakaway to make it 4-0 in the second, then—for good measure—added a power-play goal of his own with a one-time howitzer.
McCann is oozing with confidence this season, and his shorthanded goal Thursday was his 26th tally of the season. “As long as I can get the puck through and get it to the net, I feel like I always have a chance to score,” McCann said.
Gourde got his first goals since Jan. 10 in Buffalo. “Thanks for the reminder,” he said sarcastically after we asked if scoring for the first time in a while can help his confidence moving forward. “It’s always good to score a few goals going forward, but at the same time, don’t change the way you play. Just play hard, play into your game, and good things happen for you.”
Takeaway #2: Big night for special teams (finally)
That was a really long first Takeaway, so we’ll keep these other two short. It was refreshing to see the Kraken have success on both the power play and penalty kill Thursday. They got two bona fide (as in not deflecting off two skates and in like the one in Winnipeg) power-play goals, added a 6-on-5 goal with a delayed penalty coming, killed the lone penalty against, and even scored a shorthanded goal on that PK. That’s a heckuva night for the special teams.
“Simple power play usually gets it done,” said Gourde. “Use the top, Schultz has got a bomb. He’s got a great shot. We’ve got to utilize that and just take the goalie’s eyes away as much as we can.”
That’s exactly what Gourde did on both Schultz’s power-play goal and his tip-in goal with the Kraken skating 6-on-5.
Hakstol thought the Schultz goal in the second was what put the game on the rails for Seattle. “The biggest goal in the hockey game, in my mind, was Schultz’s; the power-play goal… They came out [in the second] with good energy. You knew there was going to be a response after the first period, they had a response, and that power-play goal settled things down for us and it pushed the momentum back in our favor into the second period.”
Can the Kraken learn from what made their 20th-ranked power play and 31st-ranked penalty kill successful Thursday and carry that success over?
Takeaway #3: A dominant performance
That was a thorough spanking by the Kraken, who whipped the Flyers with all eight of their tentacles. Seattle allowed just one—ONE!—shot on goal in the entire first period and kept Philadelphia under 20 for the full game.
Hakstol said it wasn’t so much that the Kraken were defending well, but rather that they were on their toes and taking care of the puck.
Now, if Seattle can just figure out how to replicate that on-their-toesiness (pretty sure that’s what it would be called) for every game…
Whoa whoa whoa! Whose to say we only have 8 tentacles? Kraken have many more then that!