About halfway through the Kraken-Ducks game on Thursday night, I leaned over to the guy next to me and said, “The Kraken could score ten tonight.” It was not that the Kraken looked that good, but more the Ducks looked that bad. I know there were a few players out, but the Ducks looked brutal in the first period. Needless to say, I was a little nervous while the Kraken hung onto a one-goal lead deep into the period. I let out a huge sigh of relief when Daniel Sprong potted his 20th of the season to give the Kraken a two-goal lead with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
Alex Wennberg would later add an empty-net goal, and the Kraken would win the game by a score of 4-1.
The Kings game on Saturday night was a completely different story. This was one of those tough-sledding games where neither team wanted to give up an inch. It was probably the soundest defensive game I have seen the Kraken play in a while, which is crazy to think about compared to the last time these two teams played, when there was a collective 17 goals scored in the wildest game of the year. According to Natural Stat Trick, there were only 10 ‘high-danger’ chances in Saturday’s game, a season low for a Kraken game.
The first goal didn’t come until halfway through the second period when Jared McCann blocked a shot that deflected right to Sean Durzi on the side of the net, who had a wide open tap-in goal. The Kraken looked determined to tie it up in the third when they logged six out of the first seven scoring chances.
Carl Grundstrom would eventually steal the puck from an unsuspecting Brandon Tanev in the Kraken zone and immediately bury it for the Kings second goal. At the time, it felt like that would be all the Kings would need, but to the Kraken’s credit, they battled back to get it within one on an Oliver Bjorkstrand power-play goal. In the end, the Kraken could not find the equalizer and the Kings would go on to add an empty netter.
Other Kraken musings:
- According to Natural Stat Trick, the Kraken had 68.3 percent of the scoring chances against the Ducks on Thursday night. That was the fourth-highest percentage for the Kraken this season.
- Although he was not significantly tested in either game, Martin Jones has looked much better in his two starts this week compared to his prior string of starts.
- I know I have called this stat out before but, Oliver Bjorkstrand has a shooting percentage of 14 percent since Jan. 1. He was 5.4 percent prior to the turn of the calendar year.
- Morgan Geekie has been getting more ice time and generating more shots since moving to second-line wing. He is due for a two-plus goal night.
- Chris Driedger posted his first shutout for Coachella Valley on Friday since being assigned there by the Kraken to continue his rehabilitation. If the Kraken can lock up their playoff spot over the weekend, I would not be surprised to see Driedger get a call-up to get in an NHL game before the end of the season.
- The Kraken have now improved their points in the standings by 30 points compared to last season. Only 20 teams have done that since the NHL expanded to an 82-game schedule in the 1995-96 season.
- With five games remaining, the max number of points the Flames can get is 97. Nashville has seven games remaining and could get a max of 98 points. Getting six out of eight possible points would be huge for the Kraken this week, as that would give them 96 points with three games remaining.
- The top-seeded Windsor Spitfires find themselves down two games to zero in the opening round of the OHL playoffs. If the Spitfires get bounced early from the playoffs, we should expect Shane Wright to join the Kraken as a black ace.
Kraken themes for the week ahead
Statistically, this is the easiest stretch of games the Kraken have faced all season. They have two games against the Coyotes, one road game against the Canucks, and a Saturday-night game at CPA against the Blackhawks. The minimum they need this week is four points, but the expected points should probably be six. Arizona’s points percentage on the road is just .295, and they have just seven wins out of 39 road games this season.
The Coyotes will also be coming into Seattle with seven losses in a row. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks have currently lost eight games in a row. Although out of the playoffs, the Canucks have been playing better over the last few weeks and could be a tough team to play as the Kraken will be on the second night of a back-to-back on Tuesday. If they manage to get all eight points available this week, the Kraken would clinch a playoff spot without worrying what other teams do in their games.
Player Performance / Stick Taps
- Dylan Guenther (ARI/Seattle Thunderbirds) – The Arizona Coyotes prospect had three goals in the Seattle Thunderbirds’ two playoff games over the weekend including two in the thrilling come-from-behind victory at accesso ShoWare Center on Friday.
- Jagger Firkus (SEA/Moose Jaw) – The Kraken’s second-round selection from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft had five points in his two WHL playoff games over the weekend.
- Daniel Sprong (SEA) – Four goals over his last six games including a nice goal against the Ducks to give the Kraken some breathing room late in the third period. Sprong’s 20 goals ranks third on the Kraken despite averaging 11 minutes a game and playing only 59 of the team’s 75 games.
Goal of the week
Double-overtime winner for Seattle Kraken prospect Jagger Firkus in Moose Jaw’s Game 1 victory over Lethbridge in the opening round of the WHL playoffs.
Chart of the week
Luckily it was not a theme this week, but there has been chatter about the Kraken allowing a lot of response goals this season. The one goal that stands out as the prime example is the Wyatt Johnson goal scored just 14 seconds after the Kraken pulled within one in the March 13 game against the Stars.
Allowing a response goal is not as common as we might have thought this season. If you want to learn a bit more about response goals, check out this piece from Alison Lukan last season when response goals were a bigger issue.
Buckle up for a critical week
As easy as the schedule appears, this will be the most important week of hockey in Kraken franchise history. The boys are in a good position to punch their ticket to the playoffs, but it will be critical that they take care of the teams they need to take care of this week to stay in that position.