The Kraken closed out their four-game road trip with five out of a possible eight points, dropping a 5-1 result to the Wild on Monday. It was an odd game, because although Seattle came out flying and peppered Marc-Andre Fleury with shots, they couldn’t get anything past him until it was way too little and way too late.
In a preview of a potential first-round playoff matchup, we saw both how the Kraken could theoretically beat the Wild, but also how they could get knocked around and outgoalied. By all statistical metrics, the Kraken were the better team, yet on the scoreboard, the Wild cruised to a lopsided win.
“Not the result we wanted,” said coach Dave Hakstol. “It was one of those nights where we weren’t rewarded for some of the good, hard work we did offensively. And we made a couple too many mistakes that ended up in the back of our net.”
Here are our Three Takeaways from a confusing 5-1 Kraken loss to the Wild.
Takeaway #1: Goaltending was the (main) difference
Typically, when your team loses 5-1, there are poor performances and low levels of effort throughout the lineup. That wasn’t necessarily the case Monday, as the Kraken dictated the play for the entire first period and a lot of the second period. They looked fast and put Minnesota on its heels, especially in the early stages of the game.
Where things went sideways for Seattle was in the goal crease at both ends of the ice. We don’t blame Philipp Grubauer for three of the four goals he allowed, but when a netminder is facing a future Hall-of-Famer at the other end, and that opposing goalie is feeling it and stopping everything, you too need to come up with some key saves.
Grubauer didn’t do that Monday, and although the Wild were putting perfect shots off posts and in, a .692 save percentage doesn’t look good, no matter how you slice it.
“We did a lot of good things,” said Jaden Schwartz. “I thought they were pretty opportunistic with their chances, and we were’t tonight with our looks. That’s kind of the way it went.”
The one goal we really didn’t like from Grubauer was Matt Boldy’s second of the night, which came at 14:59 of the second period and made it 3-0. There was traffic in front, but the shot does not come from a scoring area. Grubauer was back on his goal line, giving net to shoot at, and as Boldy was loading up, Grubauer actually pivoted like he was going to push across for a pass. Grubauer’s body opened up, and instead of staying square to the puck, he retreated farther into his net.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury stymied the Kraken. Through 40 minutes, he had stopped 26 of 26 shots of all varieties, and he turned away 35 of 36 in all.
“It didn’t feel like a 5-1 game, it felt closer than that,” said Schwartz. “I don’t know how many shots we had, 35, 40 shots. Fleury made some big, timely saves early, and we just weren’t quite there for the second chances tonight.”
Fleury seems to love playing against the Kraken. In his last two starts against Seattle, he is 2-0-0 with a 0.50 goals against average, .984 save percentage, and 63 out of 64 saves. Overall, Fleury is 4-1-1 in six career games against Seattle, dating back to his time with Chicago. In those games, he has a 1.97 GAA and .935 save percentage.
Takeaway #2: Matt Boldy was the other difference
21-year-old winger Matt Boldy is on quite the heater for the Wild, now with 11 goals in his last nine games and 28 on the season. He potted three against the Kraken Monday, with all three coming off shots that hit posts and went in. If a shooter is aiming with that kind of precision, pucks are going to go in a lot, and that is happening for him.
Interestingly, former Kraken Marcus Johansson has been a big catalyst for Boldy’s recent hot streak. Johansson was acquired from Washington in a deal at the March 3 trade deadline. It was an under-the-radar move for a player going back to another of his former teams, and the second season in a row Johansson was moved for a draft pick.
Jojo has quietly racked up almost a point per game since joining the Wild and has connected with Boldy regularly, showing great chemistry with the budding star. We know Johansson can be an excellent passer and a productive player in the right role, and he is showing that in his second stint with the Wild. Johansson assisted on each of the Wild’s first two goals Monday.
Takeaway #3: Not sure about that playoff matchup for the Kraken
Entering Monday, in “if the regular season ended today” scenarios, the Wild would have been the first ever playoff opponent for the Kraken. Earlier in the year, we would have liked that matchup. Seattle showed very well at Xcel Energy Center with a 4-0 win on Nov. 3. The Wild won in Seattle a week later, but that was another game stolen by MAF and a 1-0 result that could have gone either way.
Minnesota is a different team than it was in November, though. The Wild made some nice adds at the deadline, including Johansson and John Klingberg, and also got tougher earlier in the season by bringing in Ryan Reaves. Both of their goaltenders have been excellent, and they seem to be taking standings points almost every night.
“Obviously not the way we wanted to end [the road trip] at all, but we’ve got to learn,” said Ryan Donato. “This is a great team that we played tonight, and there’s a lot to learn from it. Hopefully we can make the most of it and be ready for our little homestand here.”
The goaltending battle is a big area of concern in a matchup with Minnesota, but on top of that, the Kraken could get pushed around by guys like Reaves and Marcus Foligno in a seven-game playoff series. Physicality is exactly the reason Seattle called up John Hayden recently, but he quickly got injured in a fight and isn’t expected back this season. He was one guy Seattle could have leaned on for some grit in the lineup, but he is no longer an option.
Donato and Yanni Gourde answered the physical bell Monday by fighting Connor Dewar and Mason Shaw, but outside of Jamie Oleksiak, who really doesn’t get involved in rough stuff very often, Seattle has no answer for Minnesota’s heavyweights.
All that said, the Kraken really did dominate a lot of the play Monday. So, do we read into the 5-1 result? Or, do we tip our caps to Boldy and Fleury and say Seattle would win more often than not if it keeps playing like that, especially when it takes almost 70 percent of the quality shots in a game?
Can we stop with the “we don’t blame Phillip Grubauer” thing? Darren, I know you’re a self-professed goalie apologists… but as Don Draper said – that’s what the money is for. When you’re in the NHL, if you stop every shot you’re supposed to… and nothing more… you’re the worst goalie in the NHL. When you’re supposed to be the 1A goalie earning $6m a year you’re supposed to look a lot more like Fleury than Grubauer. Three on eleven!?!? and again… with less than four minutes remaining he’s laying on his belly while the puck rings of the post for what should’ve been a fourth. I feel like he’s as good as the team in front of him at best… and if that’s the case what is the six million for?
Damn, Daryl. Coming right at me with that one.
Sorry Darren.. frustrated.
The Wild was without Kirill Kaprizov
Despite.opinions to the contrary, the Kraken lack championship goaltending, imo. It is inconsistent and leaky, imo. Ron Francis needs to figure out a solution.