It might be time to get concerned about this Kraken team. We’ve been preaching patience, expecting Seattle to eventually figure it out and rip off a bunch of wins in a row. We even (perhaps naively) thought such a streak could get started after coach Dave Hakstol gave his team a stern message and put the players through one of their hardest practices in the three-year history of the franchise Sunday. Surely, they would respond with a 60-minute effort Monday against the Avalanche.
But that didn’t happen.
“There were stretches of good hockey from our group,” Brandon Tanev said. “But then there were times when we were not in the game and giving them too much time and space. When you give great players too much time and space, you make it look easy for them.”
Case in point, when Cale Makar scored his goal in the third period to make it 3-1, all five Kraken players had collapsed below the dots, and Tanev, Jared McCann, and Alex Wennberg all lined up and watched Makar drift into better and better scoring position, before finally rifling it past Joey Daccord.
It started well, but this definitely was not the 60-minute effort the Kraken needed to snap themselves out of their funk. Here are our Three Takeaways from a 5-1 Kraken loss to the Avalanche.
Takeaway #1 (Darren): The opposite, yet the same
Curtis will dig into the third period in depth with Takeaway #3, but it was odd how this game played out in almost exactly the opposite fashion as the Edmonton game on Saturday, but still had the same lopsided result for Seattle. Instead of spotting their opponent four goals in the opening frame, then very slowly finding their game when it was too little, too late, the Kraken looked good in the opening 20 Monday. But then it was a slow, painful death that started with a few miserable shifts in the second period.
There was one shift, in particular, that started around the 4:00 mark of the second period, when the Kraken couldn’t get a clear despite several chances to do so, and the struggles were almost entirely of their own making. Will Borgen made a breakout pass to Yanni Gourde, but it handcuffed Gourde and kicked right to Valeri Nichushkin for a Grade-A opportunity. Then Tye Kartye tried to pass between his own legs off the half wall, but it went right to Nathan MacKinnon for another chance. Next, Borgen had a chance to clear and threw a hot pizza pie to MacKinnon at the blue line. Then Jared McCann tried to skate the puck out, but lost the handle and gave it to Cale Makar.
It was one of the sloppiest minutes of hockey we’ve seen this team play. Shockingly, that stretch did not result directly in a goal, and the Kraken survived another three minutes before conceding Colorado’s first tally to Mikko Rantanen. But that shift was a turning point, and you could really feel the ice tilting in Colorado’s favor after that.
From that point on, things accelerated in the wrong direction, and before we knew it, Seattle was looking up at another slanted score.
Takeaway #2 (Darren): Joey held on for a while
There was a moment in the second period when we looked up and saw Colorado had somehow only thrown something like 12 shots at Joey Daccord (don’t quote us on that number). We were surprised, because at that point, it seemed like the Kraken netminder had been standing on his head all period, while his teammates allowed him to get peppered with quality chances.
“It was 1-0 halfway through the game,” Daccord said. “We were sticking to the game plan, playing the way we wanted to play. They scored two quick ones, and the wind got taken out of our sails a little bit.”
Eventually, Colorado’s shot total did pile up to 31 on the night, but we thought Daccord deserved better than the five goals he allowed. He gave his team a chance through that second period, when the Kraken were getting hemmed in their zone for long stretches.
Brandon Tanev, who scored in his return after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury sustained on opening night, had high praise for the netminder. “Joey made some fabulous saves. Unfortunately, we weren’t there to help when he needed it.”
Hakstol agreed. “Tonight, I thought his puck play was good and pretty clean. The biggest part of his game, I thought he made a few big saves at the right times. … I thought he was sharp. I thought he was on his game.”
Here was Daccord’s best save of the night:
Takeaway #3 (Curtis): A nightmare third period
While the momentum had shifted away from the Kraken earlier in the night, the team entered the third period in a close contest. Across the first two periods, Seattle had generated 42 shot attempts worth 2.04 expected goals to 40 attempts and 1.99 expected goals for Colorado, per Natural Stat Trick. Most important, Seattle trailed just 2-1 and began the period with almost a full minute of power-play time.
Distinguishing this game from Saturday’s effort against Edmonton, Hakstol complimented the team’s start. “Our pace was good through most of the first 40 minutes,” Hakstol said.
If Seattle came out right in the third, the game was still very much in the balance. And, to begin, it seemed like the Kraken would make a game of it. While the team couldn’t get the power play organized to create a chance, Seattle generated the first two shot attempts of the third period, though both were blocked.
From there, Colorado put on the pressure and, eventually, a collapsing defense yielded an uncontested wrister to Makar that found the back of the net.
Seattle didn’t generate an effective push after that. Gourde’s line came out and tried to find some energy with physical play but instead found themselves chasing the puck and conceding another Grade-A chance.
This scrambling defensive posture persisted for much of the third period until Jonathan Drouin’s first goal with Colorado put the Avalanche up 4-1. Vince Dunn then took two undisciplined minor penalties–slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct–plus a 10-minute misconduct. This ended the night for the Kraken defender and many fans in the stands.
All told, Seattle conceded over 90 percent of the total shot quality and got outscored 3-0 in the third period. Now, the Kraken face an inflection point in their season. With three games in four days from Wednesday through Saturday, including two against Pacific Division rivals, the team cannot afford to let the skid extend.
Asked how the Kraken could turn things around, Hakstol was clear postgame that there are no secrets here: “You just keep working.” He foreshadowed that Eberle could return to the lineup in the coming days, but Eberle alone cannot right the ship. The Kraken need to respond with a push very soon, or the season could flounder.