What a difference a week makes. Last Monday, it felt like the Seattle Kraken were on the brink of theoretical elimination from contending for a playoff spot, and now I am convinced they are a playoff team. Remember what I said about recency bias a few weeks ago? It apparently works the other way too, because I am now feeling good about this team’s chances this season after its impressive win against Vancouver on Saturday.
The Kraken secured five of a possible six points over the last three games and have looked good in all those games. There is still a long way to go, but there is a lot to be happy about over this last stretch. For starters, the depth scoring that was a key to Seattle’s success in 2022-23 has returned. Over the last three games, the Kraken have scored 10 goals from eight different players. They also won a game that went to a shootout for the first time in 579 days.
Since Game No. 5 on the season, it has felt like the Kraken have been playing decent hockey most nights, but they just were not getting quality results (and yes, I know there were some real stinkers sprinkled in there). If you play good hockey, the wins should come, so I’m hoping the last week of play is the new normal.
Coach Dave Hakstol has been even-keeled and consistent when speaking to the media, even after what felt like a disastrous loss in Edmonton when Evander Kane scored a hat trick that started with under seven minutes to play in the third period. That could have been a loss that stuck with players for a while, but they bounced back with the shootout win against the Islanders, and that seemed to give them some confidence heading into Vancouver.
3-on-3 changes coming
Broadening the scope of this article a bit, there was a lot of chatter about potential changes to three-on-three overtime rules coming out of the general managers meetings last week. My first question is, “Why do we need to change it again?”
The closest answer I saw was the quote from Arizona Coyotes GM, Bill Armstrong. “The purpose of overtime is to end the game [before the shootout], and we need to make sure that continues to progress.”
So, I looked up the numbers.
Three-on-three was instituted before the 2015-16 season, so you can see the obvious and immediate impact it had on reducing the number of shootout games. But, that number has even been trending down slightly since its inception, so changes in tactics from coaches really haven’t made the shootout happen any more frequently.
I, for one, love the shoutout, even when a team’s shooters are slow and methodical about choosing their shot attempts. It adds a lot of anticipation.
If reducing shootouts is the goal, how about they just say… eliminate them altogether? For the record, I have never heard a fan complain about the three-on-three format other than it being too short.
- Regular readers will already know this, but the Kraken win over Vancouver was their first win on a Saturday this season. They improved to 1-4-1 on the season on Saturdays.
- Alex Wennberg, Brandon Tanev, and Jamie Oleksiak all scored their first goal of the season over the last week.
- It’s been nice to see Tanev back on the penalty kill. The team was solid on the PK early in the season without Tanev but has struggled as of late. Turbo’s speed brings a different element that might get teams second guessing when trying to pinch on a 50/50 puck.
- One of my favorite moments of the game against the Canucks was when Jared McCann took a (clean) run at Elias Pettersson. I love the emotion McCann shows on the ice.
- Eeli Tolvanen led the forwards in blocked shots last week. He is known for his shot, but he has looked good defensively. Offensively, he only has three goals on the season, which is fine, but he is still due for a breakout game with a couple goals. If he isn’t making a huge impact offensively, being able to block shots and help at Seattle’s end of the ice keeps him in the coaching staff’s good graces.
- I have some feedback for Game Ops at Climate Pledge Arena. When there is a penalty in the game, show the replay BEFORE the game starts again. More than a few times last week, a penalty was called, but the replay did not show up on “The Twins” until after game play began. Anyone else notice this? We, as fans, need more time to be irate over the call.
- Big congratulations to Everett native Kaden Shahan for being named to the US Junior Select team that will compete in the 2023 World Junior A Challenge in early December. Shahan played much of his youth hockey in the Seattle area. He now plays for the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL where he has 15 goals and five points in 19 games. He is expected to play at the University of Connecticut next season.
- Kraken prospect, Ty Nelson became the North Bay Battalion’s franchise leader in goals, assists, and points for a defenseman. Congrats, Ty!
- Oscar Fisker Mølgaard scored two goals on Saturday night for HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League. He was a second-round selection of the Kraken in this most recent entry draft, and apparently, he had some sage advice for one the veterans before the game.
- Former Seattle Thunderbird Luke Prokop made his AHL debut last week. Read about Luke’s inspiring story here.
- Another former Seattle Thunderbird hit a significant milestone last week. Goaltender Thomas Milic won his first AHL game in a 3-2 win for the Manitoba Moose.
Jordan Eberle (SEA) – After missing a few games after being cut by Jaden Schwartz’s skate in practice, Ebs has five points over the last three games. Eberle’s uptick in production has been a sight for sore eyes, as he struggled to contribute in the first part of the season.
Jani Nyman (SEA) – The Seattle Kraken’s second-round pick from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft continued his impressive season with a hat trick for Ilves against SaiPa on Saturday night. At 19 years old, he is tied for second in goals scored (11-5—16) in the Finnish Liiga.
Sidney Crosby (PIT) – I don’t know if anyone has heard of this guy before, but he has five goals over his last four games.
Goal of the week
This was Mølgaard’s second goal of the game and proved to be the game winner for HV71.
You don’t see that everyday
Everyone loves a goalie goal.
This was Alex Nedeljkovic’s second AHL goal. He then got recalled to the Pittsburgh Penguins and pitched a 38-save shutout against the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.
Chart of the week
The Seattle Kraken power play has significantly improved this season, and the team has become more dependent on it compared to last year.
Here is a look at the team’s power-play goal percentage compared to the rest of the league this season.
Another big and busy week
For as good as I feel about the team right now, they still have some work to do before we can really say they are a playoff contender. They have another critical week ahead, with three home games against division opponents over the next five days. The Kraken will look for redemption Monday against the Calgary Flames, who are not too far behind the Kraken in the standings.
Then, the Kraken will welcome the San Jose Sharks and Canucks in what I call the “Turkey Sandwich” on the days before and after Thanksgiving respectively. Four points should be the target with three being the minimum for good feelings.
Is there an area you want to dig into for next week? If so, let me know in the comments section, and I will see what I can do.