The Kraken find themselves down 2-1 in a best-of-seven series to the Colorado Avalanche heading into tonight’s pivotal Game 4 matchup. As one can expect from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it has been quite the roller coaster of a series. We got the thrills in Game 1, the suspense in Game 2, and Game 3 was a combination of thrills and terror all in one. It is nice to know the Kraken are making sure we get the full playoff experience.
After mitigating the damage of the big guns of the Colorado Avalanche over the first two games, Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon had three points, while Mikko Rantanen had two in Game 3 on Saturday night. They came as advertised, and the Kraken will need to minimize the impact they have on the game Monday if they expect to win.
Despite the outcome, Saturday night was special and something I literally dreamed of for many years. Playoffs have a way of igniting a fanbase that will drive future fans, viewership, and hockey players. I am so proud of the Kraken organization and know this is just the tip of the iceberg in what we can expect from this organization.
Face-off possession goals
There is no secret that the Kraken struggled in the face-off circle during the regular season. That narrative has persisted into the playoffs with Seattle winning just 43.6 percent through three games. However, we have established that face-off percentages are not what they are cracked up to be.
Alison Lukan breaks it down well, but there are plenty of examples of why “face-off wins” are not always a great representation of actual outcomes. Here is an example of when Seattle “lost” the face-off and one when they “won” the face-off. After gaining that perspective halfway through the season, I’ve started to watch face-offs differently. Instead of focusing on what happens on the dot, I have been looking at the entirety of the play. My eyes (and probably my heart) felt like the Kraken allowed too many goals after a face-off in their zone in the first three games. There were two goals within 10 seconds of a face-off in Game 2 (Artturi Lehkonen and Devon Toews), and then in Game 3, the Avalanche added another one (Makar). Let’s look at the numbers.
It is true that the Kraken have allowed more goals off face-off scenarios this playoff, but looking at goals over three games is hardly a good sample to draw any conclusions. Over the season, the Kraken were right in line with the league average (.29 times per game).
If we want to expand the sample, we can include shot attempts after a face-off. In addition to goals, shot attempts include shots, missed shots, and blocked shots. Here are how all playoff teams look in terms shot attempts against within 10 seconds of a face-off.
The chart shows that the Kraken are allowing more shot attempts after face-offs than average, but there is not that much difference between the Kraken and the Avalanche other than more of the Avalanche shot attempts are finding the back of the net. Calling it luck is probably a cop out, since I am sure the coaches can find some kind of breakdown in all the goals scored within 10 seconds of a face-off, but luck does play a part in it. Adding a few more games to the observations still will not create a strong sample, but it will be interesting to see if there will be a regression to a normalized number.
Coachella Valley Firebirds advance
The Seattle Kraken’s AHL affiliate has advanced to the second round of the AHL playoffs with a convincing 5-1 victory in Game 3 of a best-of-three first-round matchup against the Tucson Roadrunners. Shane Wright notched his first AHL playoff goal. Wright’s goal was assisted by recently signed 2022 second-round draft pick, David Goyette, for Goyette’s first professional point. The Firebirds will now face the Colorado Eagles in a best-of-five series that starts Wednesday in Colorado.
Kraken themes for the week ahead
Colorado is a fast team that still has the capabilities to challenge for the Cup while Seattle is a scrappy new kid on the block that no one gave a chance at winning this series. Legends are made from moments like these, so let’s root for some legendary moments and for the Kraken to shock the world by winning this series.
Other Kraken Musings
- Morgan Geekie was out of the lineup in Game 3 to welcome the Geekie family’s first child, Gabby. Congratulations to the Geekie family.
- With the new dad power, we should expect Geekie to notch at least two goals tonight, right?
- Philipp Grubauer has been stellar in the first three games of the series, but the Kraken will need him to be even more stellar if they are going to have a chance in this series.
- It was nice to see the Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle, and Matty Beniers line get on the board Saturday night when Beniers scored. Even beyond that goal, they were much more noticeable out there. Let’s hope that continues.
- Zone entries appear to be the big challenge for the Kraken power play right now. The power play did get on the board on Saturday night, but that was off a face-off inside the zone and came with 40 seconds left in the game.
- My heart won’t be able to take it, but I would love for some new Kraken fans to experience overtime hockey.
Player Performance / Stick Taps
- Yanni Gourde (SEA) – Yanni has been having a great series against the Avalanche. He has directly or indirectly created so many chances that do not necessarily show up on a stat sheet.
- Joey Daccord (CVF/SEA) – Our good friend of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast, Joey Daccord, is 2-1 with a .942 save percentage in his three playoff starts with the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
- Jagger Firkus (MJW/SEA) – Firkus had eight points over the last three games for the Moose Jaw Warriors and has a point in every WHL playoff game for the Warriors. Moose Jaw is trying to fight off elimination as they take on the Winnipeg Ice. If the Warriors win, Game 7 will be Wednesday night.
Goal of the week
There’s nothing like a Big Rig dangle backhander.
If you have any questions, comments, or observations, don’t hesitate to leave something in the comments, and I will do my best to get back to you. In the meantime, Go Kraken!!!!