Kraken out of sorts during 6-1 drubbing at hands of Flyers

Kraken out of sorts during 6-1 drubbing at hands of Flyers

They can’t all be Picassos, and the Seattle Kraken certainly aren’t hanging the film from Monday’s 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in a museum any time soon.

Seattle actually had some life and a few chances early in the game.

Jordan Eberle got the puck on the doorstep early on but Flyers goalie Carter Hart was able to get his glove on it, or depending on how you look at it, Eberle shot it into his glove, to keep the game scoreless. 

Had the Kraken cashed in on one of the early looks perhaps the game would have gone in a more positive direction for Seattle.

“It’s hard to say,” Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy said. “It would be nice if one of those goes in but we just didn’t stick with it enough.”

The Flyers were the ones sticking with it and would score thrice over the last ten minutes of the first period. The goals came from Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, and Derick Brassard who banked one off Soucy.

It was 3-0 heading into the first intermission, but it already felt like the game was decided.

“We had a really competitive start in the first ten minutes and we did have a couple of good scoring chances,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “We gave up the first goal from 200 feet away which was a little bit of a theme tonight…we got beat up ice.”

Hakstol didn’t like the way his team defended the entire ice, feeling the goals were results from the lack of a forecheck or plays in the neutral zone. 

Philipp Grubauer took the brunt of those mistakes, allowing five goals on 20 shots through two periods. Chris Driedger started the third period for Seattle and made six saves while allowing one goal in the third.

There was some thought that perhaps Grubauer should have been given the night off earlier and Hakstol said after the game that in hindsight he would have made the switch sooner. He also stressed the change in net wasn’t indicative of how Grubauer has been playing for the Kraken.

Seattle would eventually fall behind 5-0 in the second period before Soucy scored his first as a Kraken to stop the bleeding.

It’s a long season and teams will occasionaly lay an egg the way Seattle did on Monday. After the game there was no panic amongst the Kraken.

“There’s a lot of things that it looks like,” Hakstol said. “We were out of sync, we couldn’t put ourselves back on the right track and that’s the end result.”

Hakstol tweaks the lines

The top line had a new look Monday as Hakstol moved Alex Wennberg to center the Jaden Schwartz and Eberle group.

“We wanted to see a different combination,” Hakstol said. “It was a tough night to evaluate all of that.”

When Wennberg was acquired in free agency the general thinking was that he would take the top center role until Yanni Gourde was available to return from injury. While Hakstol is right, the line didn’t score and how they played in their own end is the stuff for film study.

However, an argument could be made they were the Kraken’s best line Monday, ending the night with positive possession numbers, something to build on moving forward.

Notes

The Kraken will finish their road trip Tuesday with a game against the New Jersey Devils. It’s expected that Driedger will make his first start for Seattle.

Nathan Bastian found himself in the middle of a number of skirmishes and one tilt with former Seattle Thunderbird Nate Thompson. Bastian was on the ice for 6:35 while earning 27 minutes in penalties.

Kole Lind played his first game with the Kraken. He played 9:21 but did not figure in the scoring. It was the eighth NHL game for Lind who played seven for the Vancouver Canucks last season.

Kole Lind making official debut as Seattle Kraken take on Philadelphia Flyers

Kole Lind making official debut as Seattle Kraken take on Philadelphia Flyers

Seattle Kraken at Philadelphia Flyers
4 p.m. Pacific time
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV: ROOT Sports
Radio: KJR AM 950

Who doesn’t love a good revenge game? Because that’s what coach Dave Hakstol gets to experience tonight as the Seattle Kraken take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Well… sort of. He did visit as an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs a couple seasons ago, but this is his first game back as a head coach, so that’s a big deal, right?

“It’s always nice to come back,” Hakstol said Monday morning. “Obviously I have a lot of great memories here, and a lot of good friends, and obviously as you get to this time of day, it kind of flips full circle right to the competition of the game tonight.” Now those are some fighting words!

Ok, maybe it’s not really a “revenge” game per se, but Hakstol does certainly have a history with the Flyers organization, which hired him straight out of the college ranks back in 2015 and eventually relieved him of his duties after the team got off to a 12-15-4 start in 2018.

Hakstol also gave the update on Monday that Vince Dunn is still day-to-day, though he did participate in morning skate, so we will again see both Carson Soucy and Haydn Fleury in the lineup.

The only real change to the lineup comes up front.

After Alex Barre-Boulet made a huge play to set up Alex Wennberg in his first game with the Kraken on Thursday at Nashville, and after hearing what Hakstol said about his play that night, there was a general sense that he may have a role in the lineup moving forward. On Sunday in Columbus, he only saw the ice for a few seconds of the third period and spent the rest of the game on the bench.

Tonight, Barre-Boulet is being scratched in favor of Kole Lind, who makes his official debut with the Kraken, though he did appear in several preseason games as well. Lind, who was a well-liked prospect for the Vancouver Canucks before being selected by Seattle in the Expansion Draft, has seven games of NHL experience but does not yet have a point.

Philadelphia Flyers

There’s a strong connection to the Pacific Northwest in this evening’s game, as Carter Hart is expected to be between the pipes for the Flyers. The former Everett Silvertips superstar burst onto the scene as Philadelphia’s full-time starter three seasons ago as one of the youngest goalies ever to hold such a role. He faltered last season, though, posting an unimpressive .877 save percentage and 3.67 goals against average in 27 games.

Hart is looking to get his young career (believe it or not, he’s still just 23 years old) back on track.

We may also see veteran center Nate Thompson, an Alaska native and former Seattle Thunderbird, suited up for the Flyers tonight.

As for the rest of the Flyers, the roster looks a bit different from what we’ve seen in the past. Cam Atkinson was acquired in the offseason for Jake Voracek, while Shayne Gostisbehere was jettisoned and Ryan Ellis and Keith Yandle were added on the back end.

The Flyers have played just one game so far, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

Projected lineup

For lack of a better guess, we’re predicting that Lind will slide in with Wennberg and Joonas Donskoi, though Hakstol gave a big “maybe” on his forward lines in his press availability, so we could see some shuffling.

Three takeaways – Barre-Boulet, fisticuffs lead to Kraken win over Predators

Three takeaways – Barre-Boulet, fisticuffs lead to Kraken win over Predators

Thursday was a night to remember for Seattle Kraken fans, as their beloved new team got the first victory in franchise history against the Nashville Predators in their hostile barn. It was a tale of two games, as Seattle had the better of the play through two periods and absolutely deserved the 3-2 lead that it took to the dressing room prior to the third. But when the third started, a switch had flipped.

Gone was the aggressive Seattle forecheck and present was a team completely in its proverbial turtle shell, just doing everything it could to minimize the danger of the shots Nashville was getting, as the Predators pushed to level the score.

As the old adage goes, a win is a win, and this particular win is huge for many reasons. Here are our three takeaways from the first victory in the history of the Seattle Kraken.

Takeaway #1: Alex Barre-Boulet can play

We really didn’t know what Seattle was getting from Alex Barre-Boulet, claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. The smallish 24-year-old forward came to Seattle with just 15 games of NHL experience under his belt, but we couldn’t help wondering if the fewness of opportunities was simply a product of the unmatched depth of the Lightning organization.

After all, Barre-Boulet put up huge numbers in the AHL, notching 136 points in 144 games with the Syracuse Crunch over parts of three seasons. AHL success doesn’t always translate to NHL success, though, so we were reserving judgment.

What we saw from ABB on Thursday indicated that the Kraken may have stolen away a very talented young forward.  He was fast and aggressive, fitting nicely with Seattle’s systems in the offensive zone, and he quickly seemed to find chemistry with Alex Wennberg and Joonas Donskoi on the second line.

Barre-Boulet also showed off his creativity when he found Wennberg standing wide open on the backdoor for an easy tap-in at 9:54 of the second period.

He ended up with just 9:05 of ice time, but coach Dave Hakstol noted after the game that the team was defending in the third, and he realized that Barre-Boulet probably didn’t have a full grasp of Seattle’s defensive systems yet. So Nathan Bastian got a lot of the time with Donskoi and Wennberg in the final 20 minutes.

The relatively low usage was not a slight on the way Barre-Boulet played. In fact, Hakstol called his game “rock solid” and noted that he had a big impact on the outcome.

Takeaway #2: A change in style and a change in personnel

Through preseason and in these first couple games, the Kraken have quickly developed an identity as a team that is aggressive on the forecheck. They showed this Tuesday in Vegas, and they showed it through the first two periods Thursday in Nashville. That style makes for exciting hockey, but also leaves Seattle susceptible to quick strikes and counters, which the Golden Knights definitely took advantage of in the opening game.

We were curious, though, what would happen when Seattle went into the third period with a lead. Taking chances to create offense in the earlier stages of a game is one thing, but coaches generally don’t like firewagon hockey, especially when their team is ahead late.

What we saw from Seattle in the third period Thursday indicated that there is a different gameplan that will be executed when the Kraken are in position to win.

Lines were shuffled for a more defensive posture (we previously mentioned Bastian replacing Barre-Boulet), and Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson got big minutes. The team collapsed around Philipp Grubauer to keep shots to the outside as much as possible and were hellbent on not overcommitting to take themselves out of position.

Despite the puck hardly leaving Seattle’s zone during the entire third period—and the Kraken not even registering a SINGLE SHOT before Brandon Tanev’s empty-net goal—there weren’t that many prime scoring chances for the Predators. Those shots that did get through were stopped by Grubauer, who looked especially dialed in late.

“At times there’s things we want to do better and a little differently in that period,” Hakstol said after the game. “But at the same time, one thing we didn’t do is we didn’t give up a whole lot. We spent too much time in our own zone. We didn’t have the puck as much as we would like, but sometimes the stress of the moment plays into things.

“There was none of that chaos on our bench. It was very calm, guys were talking, doing the right things, and at the end of the day, we kept things to the outside and got the job done.”

Takeaway #3: Fighting can still impact the outcome of a game

No, we are not referencing this Kraken fan and this Predators fan duking it out in the stands for what we believe to be the first fan fight in franchise history.

On the contrary, we are talking about the pugilism that happened on the ice when Vince Dunn threw a big hit on Colton Sissons deep in the Kraken zone with about five minutes left in the first period.

The hit was squeaky clean, but Yakov Trenin for some reason didn’t like it and challenged Dunn. Comically, Jeremy Lauzon tried to jump in and handle the business on Dunn’s behalf. But Dunn—who also showed in preseason that he can handle himself in these situations—didn’t hesitate. In a flash, his gloves were off and fists were flying. Trenin threw more punches, but headed straight to the dressing room for repairs after, as Dunn skated with gusto straight to the penalty box.

Adding a dash of salt to Trenin’s wounds, he got an extra two minutes for going after Dunn.

From the box, Dunn watched as Seattle took control of the game late in the period and scored the first two power-play goals of the season.

For his physical contribution, captain Mark Giordano named Dunn the player of the game in the dressing room after the win.  

The debate about fighting will rage on as long as it exists in hockey, but Thursday night, it had a big role in turning the tides for the Kraken.

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Kraken hang on to beat the Nashville Predators for first win as NHL franchise

Kraken hang on to beat the Nashville Predators for first win as NHL franchise

It’s cliché to say a team ‘hung on to win,’ but there’s no other way to describe the Seattle Kraken’s victory against the Nashville Predators. It would be the first win in Seattle’s franchise history.

Seattle was in control over the first two periods.

The Kraken owned the puck, building a 3-2 lead, and looked like they were going to sail their way to a win. Things took a turn in favor of the Predators over the final 20 minutes, however, as Nashville controlled everything and outshot the Kraken 13-1. Philipp Grubauer stood tall for Seattle and made great save after great save to turn away the tying bid. The goalie ended the night making 27 saves.

Brandon Tanev would score an empty net goal – for Seattle’s only shot in the period – to preserve a 4-3 victory as Seattle is in the ‘W’ column for the first time.

“I know the guys were really excited to be able to get the first win,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “When it sinks in it’s the first win in franchise history, it’s a big deal for everybody.

Over the first two periods, Seattle held a 25-17 shots on goal advantage, a 5-on-5 shot attempt lead of 31-17, and 58 percent of the scoring chances. In the third period, Nashville held a 21-2 shot attempt lead and produced 11 scoring chances to Seattle’s one.

Grubauer simply was a monster in net and the difference during the third period. He stopped 10 of those scoring chances, only allowing a six-on-five goal to Mikael Granlund with 40 seconds left which added more drama to an already tense finish.

The Kraken weren’t generating offense but defensively collapsed in front of Grubauer and weathered the storm.

“Players on the bench managed it very well,” Hakstol said. “When you’ve got a captain like [Mark] Giordano, he’s calm as can be. We spent too much time in our own zone, we didn’t have the puck as much as we like. Sometimes the stress of the moment plays into things. There was no chaos on our bench. Guys were talking and doing the right things.”

Grubauer’s third period heroics allowed Seattle to get the puck down ice with 1:21 left in the game. Jared McCann raced it down in the corner and quickly sent it to Tanev in front for what ultimately would clinch the win.

It wasn’t easy but it was as memorable as a franchise’s first win can be.

“It’s huge, it’s something we’ll always remember,” McCann said. “We’ve got the [game] puck right now and we’ll do something nice with it.”

Everyone is scoring

For the second straight game, the Kraken got scoring up and down the lineup. Yes, the McCann, Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle line was good and McCann scored a power-play goal in the first period to tie the game at one.

But it would be Tanev who scored next when he crashed the net on another power play. He found a rebound in the slot and buried it for his first of the game and the season. The goal gave Seattle its first lead in franchise history.

In the second period, Nashville’s Roman Josi scored on a five-on-three power play to even the game up at 2-2. The Kraken would take the lead later in the period when newcomer Alex Barre-Boulet slid a perfect pass to Alex Wennberg who was all alone at the side of the Nashville net. Wennberg easily scored his first of the season to go along with an assist on the night.

Seattle will be a stronger offensive team if it can get scoring up and down the lineup, and for the second game, it got two or more goals from players not on the top line.

Welcome to the Kraken, Barre-Boulet

The Kraken picked up Barre-Boulet off of waivers Monday afternoon from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

At 24 years old, Barre-Boulet had appeared in 15 NHL games prior to Tuesday. He’s posted 34- and 27-goal campaigns in the AHL and has some skill. He arrived to the Kraken with barely enough time to learn some names and faces, but you wouldn’t have known by his play.

He was on a line with Wennberg and Joonas Donskoi, and they came up with the go-ahead goal.

“He made a key play in the game,” Hakstol said. “That was a hell of a play to find Wennberg on the back door. I thought he was rock solid.”

By the numbers

Seattle was a perfect 2-for-2 on the power-play Tuesday which is remarkable considering how little time they’ve had together as a group. So far, they’ve kept the formula simple. Get traffic and get pucks to the net.

Morgan Geekie led the Kraken with four shots on goal in just over 19 minutes of ice time. His line, with Tanev and Ryan Donato, didn’t produce goals, but despite the one-sided third period ended the night with 64 percent of five-on-five shot attempts while they were on the ice.

McCann added an assist Thursday and has scored in both games Seattle has played.

The Kraken continue their road trip with a matchup Saturday with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Two bombshells: Kraken have five in Covid protocol, name Giordano captain

Two bombshells: Kraken have five in Covid protocol, name Giordano captain

Every NHL hockey team faces adversity at some point in its seasonal journey. When it happens and the intensity with which it hits are the variables, because dealing with the unexpected is… expected. Adversity will happen. Of course, there’s the matter of how well the team can manage through those challenges. While adversity is always hiding around every corner, waiting to rear its ugly head, no coach expects to have it strike for the very first game in the history of a franchise. But that is what Dave Hakstol and the Seattle Kraken are encountering now, as five players have popped up on the Covid protocol list just one day before the team’s inaugural season opener in Vegas. 

Five Kraken players in Covid protocol

Calle Jarnkrok had been missing from practice since Friday and was confirmed to be in Covid protocol. Since then, we began seeing more stringent procedures in place at the Kraken Community Iceplex. On Monday, when several more players were missing from practice, you just knew something was up. 

Media availability after Monday’s skate was initially focused on the Kraken naming Mark Giordano as the first captain in franchise history, but the conversation was facilitated via Zoom—not in person—for the first time since the opening of training camp. Making things even more obvious that the Covid situation had worsened, the podium was being sanitized every time a player finished his availability. 

When Dave Hakstol finally took his spot at the microphone, the first question was on the status of the players that were missing from Monday’s practice. That’s when he confirmed that Jared McCann, Marcus Johansson, Jamie Oleksiak, and Joonas Donskoi had joined Jarnkrok in protocol.

So, if you’re scoring at home, that’s five regular players in total that we don’t expect to be available for Seattle in its first-ever game Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. Yanni Gourde and Colin Blackwell also remain unavailable due to injury, so the full-time NHL lineup that we expected to see for the first time Tuesday has been seriously impacted.

Hakstol indicated that the team had a lot of decisions to make, as it needed to determine which players to recall from AHL Charlotte on short notice. It’s also possible that Alex Barre-Boulet—claimed off waivers by the Kraken from Tampa Bay on Monday—could slot right in. 

“We’ve already started working toward that plan,” Hakstol said. “Things happen quickly and sometimes at inopportune times. There’s different challenges you go through throughout the season. This is one of them for us, early on. We have some decisions to make as we go through the day. We’ll do that, and we’ll be ready to play as we get into Vegas [Monday night].” 

We should have a better handle on who will and won’t play Tuesday morning, but for now, expect the roster for the very first game to have more of a preseason flair than we anticipated. 

Simply fielding a whole roster for Game 1 was certainly not a hurdle Hakstol and staff expected to have to clear. We shall see how Seattle handles this remarkably early adversity. 

Mark Giordano named captain, four players named alternates

Giordano being named the first captain in franchise history was supposed to be the biggest news on Monday. Yanni Gourde, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle, and Adam Larsson being named alternate captains was supposed to be the second-biggest news. Instead, here we are halfway through the story before we’re even really touching on it, thanks to the Covid bombshell mentioned previously. 

Now, this really is huge news in the grand scheme of things. All of the players earning letters indicated in their Zoom pressers that they expect to lead to the best of their own respective abilities, and the alternates all sang the praises of Giordano. 

“I think for me it was an easy decision,” said Eberle about Giordano being named the team’s captain. “I’m from Calgary, and live there in the summertime, and a lot of people don’t know… Obviously they see the work he puts in on the ice and the leadership capabilities that he has. But being from Calgary, I know firsthand the leadership role that he has in the community, whether it’s charities or- the little things that he’s doing inside of Calgary. So we’re lucky to have him, and it’s an easy decision in my mind.” 

Eberle was referencing the nine seasons that Giordano spent with the captain’s ‘C’ on his Flames sweater. So, this certainly isn’t Giordano’s first rodeo, but this time is a little different for the veteran blueliner, as he now comes into the role with experience.

“I think a captain of a hockey team has to be a guy who brings the guys together but relays the message from management and coaching to the players,” Giordano said. “So I’m looking forward to it. Again, it’s a great responsibility, but I can’t be more thankful to the organization for placing that trust in me.” 

Giordano always felt like the no-brainer, slam-dunk candidate for the captaincy based on his impressive credentials, but one can’t help wondering how long it will last. After all, he is 38 years old and is in the final season of a six-year contract. Will he be with the Kraken next season? What about beyond the trade deadline this season?

Clearly, his captaincy is not expected to be one that lasts forever, but making Giordano the official leader for the inaugural year makes all the sense in the world… for now.

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

How the Seattle Kraken match up with their Pacific Division opponents

How the Seattle Kraken match up with their Pacific Division opponents

The Seattle Kraken will make the playoffs in year one because the Pacific Division is weak. That’s the prevailing thought about the Kraken’s chances of doing something special during their inaugural season.

Is the Pacific Division weak?

Despite the one-year realignment last season only the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers made the playoffs, and things aren’t looking that much better for the division this season.

We know what the Kraken have to offer. Up front they are armed with solid, two-way forwards. They don’t have a true elite center, but there is depth down the lineup which makes them competitive in the Pacific. Seattle’s top line with Jared McCann, Jaden Schwartz, and Jordan Eberle has looked great during the preseason and will lead the way.

Down the lineup there are players who have 20-goal potential along with young players like Morgan Geekie who could be on the doorstep. All that and we have yet to see how the Kraken lineup looks with Yanni Gourde and Colin Blackwell in it.

On the back end, Seattle’s defense is solid, led by veteran Mark Giordano who will help with secondary scoring and man the top power-player unit. The defense is playing in front of a goalie tandem that may be the best in not only the Pacific Division but the NHL. Philipp Grubauer is coming off a season in Colorado that earned him a Vezina nomination and he’s been lights out during camp and the preseason.

How do the Kraken match up with their Pacific Division mates? Here’s a look:

Vegas Golden Knights versus Seattle Kraken

Forwards: Vegas has two of the more dynamic forwards in the league with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Last year the two combined to score 45 goals on the Golden Knights’ top line. Pacioretty has topped the 30-goal mark six times over his career while Stone is the ultimate two-way forward, adept at disrupting via the forecheck and stripping pucks almost at will.

The literal hole in the Vegas forward group last year was down the middle, and they still do not have a clear top-line center. Chandler Stephenson centered the top line and filled in adequately while William Karlsson played on the second line. In the playoffs the Golden Knights offense disappeared in part due to play down the middle.

They looked to add depth to their forwards in the offseason with trades for former Philadelphia Flyers high pick Nolan Patrick and also Evgenii Dadonov. Patrick will start at center and the bulked up third line gives Vegas a deeper and perhaps more consistent forward group. Advantage Golden Knights

Defense and goaltending: After a Vezina Trophy win the Golden Knights parted ways with Marc-Andre Fleury and traded him to Chicago this summer. He’ll go down as a Vegas legend after leading the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in year one, but they’ll now hand the net over to Robin Lehner full time. Lehner and Fleury took turns over the past two years and Lehner is a top goalie in his own right. There should not be a huge drop off, if any, for Vegas here.

Defensively, the Golden Knights are as strong as any team in the league. Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo are two offensively gifted defensemen and power-play quarterbacks. Theodore averaged .79 points per game last season which was only behind Stone and Pacioretty for Vegas. Those two are the flashy pieces on the Golden Knights back end, but Alec Martinez and Brayden McNabb round out the group well. Advantage Golden Knights

Edmonton Oilers versus Seattle Kraken

Forwards: All conversations about the Edmonton forwards begin and end with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers two top centers are also two of the world’s top centers. McDavid is coming off a spectacular MVP season just a year after Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy. The trouble in Edmonton is that the Oilers don’t get much from anyone else up front.

Last season when the two were on the ice together at 5-on-5, the Oilers dominated in every possession number you look at and scored 33 goals for and allowed 17 against. When neither were on the ice, the Oilers were outscored 52-29. Edmonton is hoping to find more scoring depth from guys like Kailer Yamamoto, who has been inconsistent, and Zach Hyman who they brought in as a free agent from Toronto. While the Kraken may have slightly more depth, with the stars at the top of the lineup, it’s hard to bet against the Oilers here. Advantage Oilers

Defense and goaltending: As elite as the Oilers are at the front of the lineup, the back end has been a struggle over the past few years. The defense has been troublesome for Edmonton and it doesn’t help that perennial top-six blueliner Adam Larsson is now in Seattle. Darnell Nurse is at the top of their pairings and is a top-end guy in the NHL, but the roster gets slim after that. Edmonton brought in a well-past-his-prime Duncan Keith to help. Will it?

In net it’s the return of 39-year-old Mike Smith, who rebounded for a nice season last year, and Mikko Koskinen. The best way to describe both goalies is… inconsistent. Advantage Kraken

Vancouver Canucks versus the Seattle Kraken

Forwards: The Canucks are looking for a bounce back year, and if enough goes right for them, they just might do so. They are strongest up front, powered by the recently re-signed Elias Pettersson who is one of the brightest young stars in the NHL. They’ll need a better year out of J.T. Miller this season, but they also have Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser returning. To bolster their forward group they added Connor Garland and Jason Dickinson via trade and a promising rookie in Vasily Podkolzin.

They can throw three solid lines at you which should lead to a consistent offensive attack. Advantage Canucks

How do the Seattle Kraken match up with their would-be rivals the Vancouver Canucks? (Brian Liesse photo)

Defense and goaltending: In net the Canucks feature the talented and young Thatcher Demko. In his first season as the number one starter Demko was a solid .915 goalie but is a step behind Grubauer at this point in their careers.

It’s in front of the goalie where there are issues, though not with Quinn Hughes. Hughes, who also just re-signed with the Canucks, is already a star and the 21-year-old speedster is only going to get better and more dangerous. After that, the Canucks defense is sketchy. They brought in Oliver Ekman-Larsson in hopes he can bolster a top six that struggles in its own end. That’s a risk. Advantage Kraken

Los Angeles Kings versus the Seattle Kraken

Forwards: The Kings have been threatening with a rebuild for a couple years now, and they’ve collected young, impressive talent but still may be a season away from truly cashing in. The ageless wonder Anze Kopitar still leads the way as their top center along with winger Dustin Brown. They’ve added Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault which gives them a bit more veteran experience and production to their top six.

Los Angeles’ exciting forwards include Alex Turcotte (drafted fifth overall in 2019) and Quinton Byfield (drafted second overall in 2020) who have yet to impact at the NHL level but are certainly on the come. If those guys are ready, the Los Angeles rebuild is in full swing. Seattle has more depth in their forwards for the time being. Advantage Kraken

Defense and goaltending: Drew Doughty leads the Kings defensively again this year and at 31 years old is still productive. His best seasons are in the past, however, and Los Angeles has surrounded him with younger guys who will need to step up if the Kings want to make the playoffs this season.

Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick are the goalie duo again this year and that is less than exciting. Petersen took the bulk of the starts last year as the 35-year-old Quick failed to get his save percentage above .900. The Kraken are much better equipped in net. Advantage Kraken

Calgary Flames versus the Seattle Kraken

Forwards: When you look at the Flames up front it’s a head scratcher as to why they weren’t better last season. Johnny Gaudreau can score and Matthew Tkachuk – who is still just 23 years old – make up a talented top line. Elias Lindholm centers a second line with Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane which has the potential to make up a tough top six.

After those guys it falls off a bit for the Flames. Will that younger second line step up enough to provide the Flames with one of the best groups in the Pacific? They’re going to have to. Advantage Kraken

Forwards and goaltending: Seattle stripped the Flames of their best defenseman when they selected Giordano at the Expansion Draft and Calgary has yet to replace him. Their top pairing could be made up of Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov who are two serviceable blueliners.  Former Tri-City Americans star Juuso Valimaki has the potential to be great but at 23-years-old hasn’t shown it quite yet.

A season ago the Flames landed former Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom with a $6 million free agent contract. That got them 31 starts with an average .904 save percentage. Behind him the Flames have an inexperienced Daniel Vladar. Advantage Kraken

San Jose Sharks versus the Seattle Kraken

Forwards: The rebuilding Sharks aren’t devoid of talent up front. Their top six still contains players like Logan Couture, Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl. Those three guys can score and will win the Sharks a few games. After those three however, the pickings are of the slim variety. They’ve added veteran Nick Bonino, who will help them down the middle, and still have the troubled Evander Kane, but it’s not enough to make this a playoff contending team.

San Jose drafted William Eklund seventh overall in July and the Swede is loaded with potential. He’s got a shot of sticking with the Sharks, but at 18, he’s not going to make a difference just yet. Advantage Kraken

Defense and goaltending: Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are as good a defensive group you could have asked for… five years ago. Now, they are declining in production, aging, and weighing down the Sharks with high-end contracts totaling just over $26 million for the three. That’s not a good situation and there’s no clear way out for San Jose.

In goal the Sharks picked up Adin Hill from the Coyotes, and he looks ready to get a shot at taking over an NHL net. The former Portland Winterhawk has yet to play more than 19 games in one NHL season but showed promise during his tenure with the Arizona Coyotes organization. He’s 25-years-old and will probably suffer some growing pains, but his future looks good. Advantage Kraken

Anaheim Ducks versus the Seattle Kraken

Forwards: The Ducks are in a serious rebuild and their best forwards are their youngest. Trevor Zegras is coming off a good AHL season in San Diego and a monster World Junior Championship performance where he scored nine goals. He played 24 games in the NHL last year and averaged .54 points per game which was second only to Maxime Comtois in Anaheim. The talent is there but at 20 years old he’s probably not ready to be an elite center just yet.

Ryan Getzlaf is back for another year with the Ducks, but he’s coming off a five-goal season and offers little more than leadership and nostalgia. Advantage Kraken

Defense and goaltending: Chosen sixth overall by the Ducks in the 2020 NHL Draft, Jamie Drysdale turned in an impressive season in the AHL last year. He’s 19 years old now but is the future for Anaheim’s top pairing. Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk are nice veteran pieces, but overall, the Ducks will struggle here.

In net John Gibson appeared to be the league’s next young goalie when he posted a .926 save percentage in 2017-2018. In the four seasons since he’s seen that number drop each year down to last season’s .903. Is it him or the team in front of him? Advantage Kraken