Former Everett Silvertip Connor Dewar making NHL debut for Wild against Kraken

Former Everett Silvertip Connor Dewar making NHL debut for Wild against Kraken

Seattle Kraken versus Minnesota Wild
7 p.m. Pacific time
Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington
TV: ROOT Sports
Radio: 950 AM KJR

Tuesday was a big step in the right direction for the Kraken, who won convincingly over a struggling Montreal Canadiens team, 5-1, for the franchise’s first victory on home ice. After the game, coach Dave Hakstol indicated that he was mostly pleased with how the team played, but there was still plenty of room for improvement based on the odd-man rushes Seattle gave up and some sloppy play at times. 

Speaking somewhat anecdotally, Hakstol sounded more positive after the team’s 4-2 loss to Vancouver on Saturday than he did after the team’s 5-1 win over Montreal on Tuesday. He called the team’s execution in transition “sporadic at times.” 

Perhaps that’s all part of the messaging to help the group recognize that their win came against a team that did not play well and is rightfully off to a terrible start to its season. He’s indicating that the team needs to play even better than it did on Tuesday to beat stronger, hotter teams. NHL coaches love to focus on how their team played, rather than the outcome of games, because there is always a level of puck luck that is beyond the control of the players. What you can control is your effort level and playing within the structure the coach has implemented, and that’s where Hakstol sees opportunity for the Kraken. 

Still, the never-a-doubt victory has to be a big confidence booster for a group that was struggling to prove it could score goals and win games.

Seattle gets one of those stronger, hotter teams on Thursday, as the 5-1-0 Minnesota Wild visit Seattle. 

Goals from goal scorers 

Of course it’s been awesome to watch Brandon Tanev’s meteoric rise to Seattle fan favorite, as the man teammates call “Turbo” has potted five goals in seven games. That’s two goals shy of his 32-game total from last season. 

A breakout from Tanev is feeling more realistic with every passing game, but him serving as the team’s top goal scorer for an 82-game season is probably not sustainable. And if he does remain the top scorer, that likely means that guys who should lead the team are not having great seasons. 

Two of Seattle’s more skilled forwards, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde, got their first respective goals on Tuesday. Eberle was admittedly snake-bitten coming into that game against the Habs, and his play after notching an early goal looked looser and more confident than we had seen in the several contests prior. 

For a team that is expected to sometimes have difficulty scoring, getting their top guys going is extremely important. Let’s see if Gourde and Eberle can build off that production on Thursday. 

Appleton out, Bastian in

We were surprised to see Nathan Bastian come out of the lineup Tuesday after he was right in the middle of several near-miss chances on Saturday against Vancouver. But Ryan Donato didn’t really deserve to sit either, and… well… somebody had to do it. Healthy scratches do not always come fairly. 

Now Mason Appleton has been ruled out after Sami Niku dragged him down and fell with all his weight on Appleton’s foot Tuesday. Appleton was helped off the ice and was putting no weight on his right leg as he went down the tunnel. 

As a result, Bastian will slide back in. During line rushes Wednesday, he skated with Riley Sheahan and Morgan Geekie, while Donato—who scored a beautiful breakaway goal against the Habs—was with Tanev and Jared McCann. 

Haydn Fleury has been swapping in and out of the lineup with Carson Soucy to start the season, but Fleury played well on Tuesday and took line rushes with Vince Dunn Wednesday. He also addressed media after Thursday’s morning skate, so it feels likely that he will be back in against the Wild.

Said Hakstol on Tuesday, “[Fleury] came in and I thought he skated really well tonight. I thought he was moving with the puck and getting up ice and most importantly on our half of the red line, he played a pretty clean hockey game. That’s a real positive. That’s what we need out of our guys on the back end. You gotta defend well, get us out of the zone, and everything from there is a bonus, and I thought he was good tonight.” 

Minnesota Wild

The breaking news from Wild practice on Wednesday was that… there was no Wild practice on Wednesday. That’s because there had been a few cases of COVID among members of Minnesota’s staff, and after tests were performed on the team, players are now being impacted. The Wild announced on Thursday morning that Mats Zuccarello and Rem Pitlick had been placed into protocol. 

Kyle Rau, Jon Lizotte, and former Everett Silvertip Connor Dewar were being recalled from AHL Iowa. Dewar is expected to make his NHL debut just a few miles down I-5 from where he was beloved while playing in the WHL. It will certainly be a big moment for him and his billets, who will be in attendance.

The Wild have evolved dramatically over the past couple of seasons. Gone are Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and here are Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, and Joel Eriksson Ek. They’re a faster, more exciting team than in years past, and in the early stages of this campaign, they have been comeback kids on several occasions, which has helped them to their impressive start. 

Budding superstar Kaprizov is the centerpiece for this team, but word around the Wild campfire is that he has gotten off to a slow start. Though he doesn’t have any goals, he does have five assists in six games. Meanwhile fellow skilled winger Fiala has a goal and two assists so far, but has been noticeable every night. 

For the Kraken’s sake, Seattle fans should hope that Kaprizov and Fiala do not choose Thursday as their night to get rolling statistically. 

The Wild are coming off of a 3-2 victory in Vancouver on Tuesday.  

Projected lineup

From Kraken practice: What’s up with Brandon Tanev’s start? Mason Appleton update

From Kraken practice: What’s up with Brandon Tanev’s start? Mason Appleton update

SEATTLE — The morning after the first win at Climate Pledge Arena the Seattle Kraken were back on the ice Wednesday.

Seattle’s practice was lively and competitive. The players were in good spirits and a lot of chatter and friendly chirps could be heard, proving that winning remains undefeated when it comes to inducing good moods.

Mason Appleton was not a participant Wednesday.

The winger was injured during the second period against Montreal and did not return to the game. Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said Wednesday that they were still evaluating Appleton’s status but didn’t have an update. He would not guess at a time table for recovery but hinted that Appleton could miss some time.

Hakstol added that as of Wednesday morning, there was not a player on his way from AHL Charlotte but that there will be “discussions” about a call up if necessary.

Wild potentially dealing with COVID

Seattle is scheduled to play the Minnesota Wild Thursday at 7 p.m. at Climate Pledge Arena. The Wild were at the arena Wednesday but as reported by The Athletic’s Michael Russo, the team may be dealing with a COVID issue.

This is obviously a developing story.

Brandon Tanev’s strong start pacing Kraken

There was still a buzz in the arena Wednesday about the hot start of Tanev. With two goals during Tuesday’s 5-1 win against the Canadiens he leads the team with five. Last season he scored seven and has never had more than 14 in the NHL — which he did with the Winnipeg Jets in 2018-2019.

“He’s a guy that plays with pace,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “He plays hard with passion every shift and is confident when he has an opportunity. He expects to be able to find the back of the net. It’s not like he’s just out there hoping for or looking for an offensive opportunity, he’s working 200 feet. Usually when you do that, good things happen. And that’s the way he’s been generating.”

During practice, Tanev scored with a hard, low wrist shot which generated a cheer from the rest of the team.

Scary moment of the day

The team worked on its transition game Wednesday and the drills would end with forwards shooting on goal off the rush. Jordan Eberle lost an edge on one of these rushes and slid into goalie Joey Daccord wiping him out along with the net.

Eberle slid into the boards and Daccord lay face first on the ice. Both players were able to get up quickly and were not hurt in what was a close call.

Kraken earn convincing 5-1 win at home over Canadiens, Appleton injured

Kraken earn convincing 5-1 win at home over Canadiens, Appleton injured

Kraken fans were treated to an offensive outburst by Seattle for the first time on Tuesday, as it crushed a reeling Montreal Canadiens team 5-1 to improve to 2-4-1 on the season. It was the first win at Climate Pledge Arena for the franchise and an all-around solid effort by the Kraken from start to finish.

The result was important for a lot of reasons. The team simply needs to start racking up standings points if it aims to be competitive this season, so from that standpoint it was a step in the right direction. But the associated confidence boost of a convincing win may have lasting benefits as well, as it got a couple guys onto the scoresheet that had perhaps been gripping their sticks a little too tightly. 

Before the game, Seattle held a ceremony to unveil a banner honoring the Seattle Metropolitans, who defeated the Canadiens in 1917 to become the first American-based team to win the Stanley Cup. It was a brief and thoughtfully produced celebration that featured family members of Frank Foyston, one of the stars of that Metropolitans team, as well as Kraken general manager Ron Francis and minority owner Jerry Bruckheimer. 

A fast start for Seattle

As soon as the tactful celebration ended, the current version of Seattle’s professional hockey team got right to work. 

Jordan Eberle—who admitted a few days ago that he was feeling pressure to start scoring—got the proverbial monkey off his back just 1:02 into the game. On a three-on-two rush, Eberle took a pass from Jared McCann at the top of the left circle, glided across the slot, and snapped a perfect shot over the glove of Canadiens netminder Jake Allen. 

That was Eberle’s first of the year, and you could see from the way he played all night that the pressure had been eased. He played most of the game with Jaden Schwartz and Alex Wennberg, a line that was coincidentally buzzing throughout. Eberle in particular looked as confident as he did during the preseason and could have easily scored a couple more. 

After the early eruption, things calmed down for a bit, before Mike Hoffman found a bouncing puck in front of Philipp Grubauer and swatted it in for his second goal of the season, leveling the score at 1-1. On the play, Schwartz also caught Hoffman with a high stick. The play was reviewed, and it was eventually ruled that because the penalty happened after the shot, Schwartz would also serve the two-minute minor, despite the goal, and as reader Jim Long points out, since it was originally ruled a double-minor, one of the two penalties was negated by the goal, but Schwartz still had to serve two minutes. You don’t see that every day.

Fortunately for Seattle, it was able to kill off the penalty. 

Soon after that penalty ended, Jamie Oleksiak joined the rush and streaked down the right side. Brandon Tanev had gone hard to the front of the net and parked himself right on top of the crease. Oleksiak centered a pass with pace that Tanev redirected over Allen’s glove, bringing the score to 2-1 at 15:08. 

Kraken run away in the second, but Appleton gets injured

The second brought lots of good for Seattle on the scoreboard, but it came at a cost. 

Jeremy Lauzon forced a turnover in the defensive zone, and in a blink, Jaden Schwartz had gotten the puck up to the offensive blue line, where Yanni Gourde was waiting. Gourde carried the puck into the offensive zone, faked a slapshot, then waited out Allen and calmly tucked the puck around him and into a yawning cage for a beautiful goal.

Less than two minutes later, Gourde got himself on the scoresheet again when he took a pass from Mark Giordano and quickly found Tanev, who had gotten in behind Montreal’s defense. Tanev slipped the puck through Allen’s legs for his second of the night and whopping fifth of the season. The home faithful—which seems to really be taking a shine to Tanev—showed its appreciation, as Climate Pledge Arena got very loud. 

That’s when the not-so-fun stuff started for the Kraken. First, McCann got rocked by a big hit in the corner behind Allen. He wasn’t able to brace for the impact, and went slowly to the bench where he hunched over for a bit, trying to grit it out. Eventually he stood up and went down the tunnel, disappearing for the remainder of the second period. The Kraken appear to have dodged a bullet there, however, as McCann did return in the third and looked ok.

Within minutes of McCann going down the tunnel, Mason Appleton got dragged down by Sami Niku as Appleton was carrying the puck into the offensive zone. As the two players were both going down to the ice, Niku fell hard on Appleton’s foot, twisting his leg in a direction it’s not supposed to go. Appleton yelled and was writhing on the ice for a bit, before being helped off by teammates with no weight on his right leg. 

Coach Dave Hakstol did not have an update in his media availability following the game, but it didn’t look good when it happened.

Kraken close out their first home win in convincing fashion

Five minutes into the third period, Ryan Donato—who had been a healthy scratch for Seattle’s home opener on Saturday—put the game fully out of reach. On a good individual play, Donato intercepted an Alexander Romanov pass at Seattle’s blue line and was off to the races. In alone with Allen, he deked to his backhand and with a deft touch lifted it over the sprawling netminder’s left pad, a beautiful move from a guy known for his shootout prowess.

Goalie Philipp Grubauer made several nice saves in the game but was relatively well protected. “From my standpoint, the guys made it really easy,” he said after the game. In all, he stopped 23 of 24 shots, with his best save of the night coming early in the game, when he slid across in a full split and robbed Brendan Gallagher with the toe of his right skate. Tuesday was a good confidence builder for Grubauer, who didn’t have his best outing on Saturday. 

Hakstol was pleased with the win and with the effort, but with a few more odd-man rushes against on Tuesday than on Saturday, he indicated there was still room for Seattle to improve. Still, it’s a great win for a Kraken team that badly needed it.

Seattle welcomes the Minnesota Wild to Climate Pledge Arena on Thursday.

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.

The Kraken need to start winning, and facing struggling Canadiens could help

The Kraken need to start winning, and facing struggling Canadiens could help

Seattle Kraken versus Montreal Canadiens
7 p.m. Pacific time
Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington
TV: ROOT Sports
Radio: KJR AM 950 

While there will still be heaps of pomp on Tuesday night, along with plenty of circumstance, the big “milestone” games have now passed for the fledgling Seattle Kraken. Over and done are opening night—on which Seattle lost in Vegas—and also home opening night, on which the Kraken also lost to the Canucks.

Now that all that stuff is in the rearview, it’s time for Seattle to find its game and start finding some wins. The team showed well on Saturday and deserved a better outcome, but victories never come easy in the NHL.

The Kraken played with a different structure through the neutral zone than we had seen in previous games, and the result was practically no odd-man rushes against, something coach Dave Hakstol badly wanted to eliminate. So that’s a good sign, as is the team tilting the ice for the majority of the second period and just missing on several quality chances during the course of the night. 

And when Seattle briefly had a lead in the third period, it did not sit back and wait for Vancouver to come down and start pressuring. Instead, it controlled a lot of the period in the offensive zone, but an ill-timed penalty by Carson Soucy and a pass out of Vince Dunn’s reach ultimately doomed the Kraken. 

Mark Giordano said after that game that the next step for the Kraken is figuring out how to close out games, and they may have an opportunity to do so on Tuesday with a struggling Montreal Canadiens team in town. 

Lineup shuffle? 

In his media availability following morning skate on Tuesday, Dave Hakstol indicated there will be a couple of “tweaks” to the lineup, but would not say what those tweaks actually are. 

We love guessing at these types of things, so we’re going to go out on a limb and predict that Haydn Fleury draws back in for Carson Soucy while Ryan Donato gets in for… drumroll… Morgan Geekie. 

Geekie has played a pretty significant role so far, but the reason we *think* he might come out is that he did not have a regular spot during line rushes at practice on Monday. He’s also coming off a game in which Hakstol gave him fewer than two minutes of ice time in the third period. Meanwhile, Mason Appleton and Nathan Bastian—the only other forwards we could see being removed from the lineup—were part of an impactful line with Riley Sheahan that nearly scored several times on Saturday. 

Geekie was spotted having a long conversation on the ice with Hakstol on Monday, which could mean anything, but our hunch says it’s related. 

Again, this is just a guess as the skate was very optional on Tuesday morning, and Hakstol was intentionally coy about his personnel. 

UPDATE: Alright, we took a swing and missed. Morgan Geekie is in. Nathan Bastian is out, along with Carson Soucy, while Ryan Donato and Haydn Fleury return to the lineup.

Montreal Canadiens

Some folks are making a big deal out of the fact that the Seattle Metropolitans played against the Canadiens over 100 years ago. We’re going to avoid that narrative here, because—well, frankly, we don’t remember those games at all, and we highly doubt the players do either. We recognize that it’s kind of neat and that the Metropolitans beat the Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup, but we shall focus on the task at hand. 

The task at hand is a Montreal team that is coming off of a shocking trip to the Stanley Cup Final, but has gotten off to a terrible start to the 2021-22 season. The Habs finally got their first win of the season on Thursday, a 6-1 win at home over the Detroit Red Wings.

Montreal is without its all-world goaltender and former Tri-City American Carey Price, who entered the NHL/NHLPA’s player assistance program two weeks ago. Shouldering the load in net has been Jake Allen, a historically streaky goalie who can be lights out at times and leaky at others. So far, he has been pretty good, despite the terrible record, playing behind a team that hadn’t been scoring before Thursday. 

Prior to that offensive outburst, the bleu, blanc, et rouge had just four goals combined in five games. That’s not going to win you many games, regardless of who you have protecting your net. 

Do watch out for guys like Tyler Toffoli, who had 44 points for the Habs last season, and super-skilled youngsters Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Projected lineup

A raucous home opener ends in disappointment for the Seattle Kraken

A raucous home opener ends in disappointment for the Seattle Kraken

It could have been one of those nights that live on in Seattle Kraken lore forever, and in a way it still will. But what if Nathan Bastian had converted on the Mason Appleton rebound that skipped right off his stick in the second period? What if the Appleton breakaway chance that Thatcher Demko just swept off his goal line had trickled just a smidge faster? What if the pass back to Vince Dunn at the point with four minutes left in regulation hadn’t been out of his reach? 

While it was certainly a momentous night that those in attendance will never forget, the outcome did leave a residue in the mouths of Seattle fans, players, and coaches. For as magical as the first game ever at Climate Pledge Arena was—and it really was magical—imagine if Seattle had won. 

“It was electric in here all night,” said captain Mark Giordano after the game. “I mean the fans— that’s right up there with any [game I’ve played].”

“I don’t know if you can get more,” coach Dave Hakstol quipped when asked if he wanted to see more from the fanbase. “That was outstanding. Yeah, it was an amazing atmosphere, and you know, the bottom line is we wanted to reward the group in the stands with a win tonight. It’s a sour taste, you know walking out of the rink tonight, and that’s a part of it because [the fans] were awesome.”

Ah, what could have been. 

The Kraken are evolving before our eyes

The Kraken have morphed into a very different team after a couple days of practice. Hakstol talked a lot about giving up too much off the rush during Seattle’s challenging two-week road trip that ended with a 1-3-1 record. 

Yanni Gourde nearly scored just 15 seconds into the game on a breakaway that Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko turned away with his blocker. But after that rush, Seattle’s attack was measured during the first period Saturday. 

The skaters on the ice would try to get control in the offensive zone, but if there was nothing there, nobody over-committed. Instead, as soon as possession was ceded, all five Kraken players were consistently racing to the neutral zone to set up a trap for Vancouver. 

“We settled things down a little bit in the neutral zone in terms of the way we approached our neutral zone play,” Hakstol explained of the altered style. “You talk about having five guys in the picture going both directions, and we did a pretty good job tonight. We didn’t give up a whole lot off the rush.”

In fact, there were practically no odd-man rushes against for the Kraken all night, save for maybe a partial break on the Garland game winner, but even that was the result of a fluky play in the offensive zone. 

Vancouver did own the puck and zone time for most of the opening 20 minutes and made Philipp Grubauer work a bit. But most opportunities for the Canucks came from the perimeter, right where Hakstol wants them. 

The Kraken finally started to push back late in the period, especially after an impressive penalty kill that featured a big Brandon Tanev hit and a painful Joonas Donskoi shot block, as well as a power play that nearly scored several times.

The Kraken sustained pressure for the final three minutes of the period, and with just three seconds left before the horn Dunn scored the first goal ever at Climate Pledge Arena. With tired Canucks desperately trying to get the clock to zero, Dunn took a pass from Adam Larsson, delayed, and wired a perfect wristshot off the right post and in. 

Climate Pledge Arena erupted with the Kraken heading to the dressing room ahead 1-0.

Kraken got the better of the play, but the Canucks got the goal in the second

In the second, the Kraken looked like a different team again. While there was still some trapping whenever they gave up control, they spent most of the stanza with the puck and in the offensive zone and had a couple of very near misses. As Hakstol said, Seattle “tilted the ice” that period. 

The first Grade ‘A’ chance came when Appleton put a shot with purpose into the feet of Demko from a bad angle. Demko kicked a juicy rebound right onto the stick of a streaking Bastian, but Bastian partially fanned on what looked like a sure goal.

Later, Appleton had a clear breakaway and fired a shot into Demko’s armpit. The puck squirted through the Canuck netminder and sat right on the goal line for a moment before Demko was able to dive back and sweep the puck off the line. 

The Canucks did not register a shot on goal for the first 11 minutes of the period. Then Giordano tried to bank a breakout pass off the boards to Alex Wennberg, but Garland got a stick on it and quickly found Bo Horvat in the slot. Horvat put it right through the wickets of Grubauer, a goal that the Seattle netminder probably wanted back on the first shot of the period. 

With the Kraken threatening all period long, it was Vancouver that got the lone goal.

A late penalty and a bad bounce doom Kraken

Giordano atoned for the errant pass and gave the Kraken a 2-1 lead back at 5:09 of the third period, after Jared McCann found him breaking over the blue line.

Unlike other nights when Seattle has had late leads, it did not sit back. Instead, it continued to pressure offensively without sacrificing structure in the neutral and defensive zones.

Still, you could really feel the tying goal coming. Carson Soucy went to the box for the second time at 12:34 after tripping Juho Lammikko, a tough time to take a penalty. It took Vancouver just 18 seconds of power play time before Quinn Hughes put a shot into Grubauer’s pads that Horvat found and deposited for his second of the night. 

With the Kraken pushing back and threatening to retake the lead, an errant pass to Dunn at the point was just out of his reach. Garland jumped past the defender and raced through the neutral zone, firing a shot from the right circle that again beat Grubauer through the five hole. 

That game winner came at 15:58 of the third and sucked the air out of an otherwise raucous building.

“I liked the way we played in the third, you know taking a penalty at a tough time against a good power play hurt us,” Hakstol said. “And then the one bounce of the game went their way on the game winner.”

Kraken need to find ways to win

The loss was disappointing. It came against what will surely be a bitter rival in Seattle’s emotional home opener. It also came in a game the Kraken really should have beaten a tired group finishing a six-game road trip. 

Seattle has found several different ways to lose so far, which have added up to an underwhelming 1-4-1 record. When the Kraken have the game in hand like they did on Saturday, they need to start finding ways to win. 

Said Giordano, “We play that sort of game, we’ll be ok more nights than not, I think. We generated a lot more tonight, we created a lot more, and that’s the game. It could go either way. It’s a tight game and they get a couple… They made us pay when they got their chances.”

It’s time for the Kraken to start making other teams pay, or this season could quickly become an uphill battle. 

The Kraken are off Sunday. They will practice Monday before welcoming the Montreal Canadiens to Climate Pledge Arena on Tuesday. 

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.