Salk’s Seattle Kraken Observations: Good and bad from NHL opener
It was a wild first night for the Seattle Kraken, and if that is any indication of what is to come, this inaugural season is going to be a ton of fun.
History was made as Ryan Donato got himself in front of the net and efforted in the first goal in team history. And there was a little something for everyone in this game – a great opportunity to see much of what this game can offer.
Here are a few things that stood out:
• The Kraken don’t quite have their on-ice chemistry down yet. It was obvious on the penalty for too many men on the ice, but it was nearly as evident throughout the game. We saw plenty of passes just behind their intended target and defense pairings unsure of who would carry the puck out of the zone. Those miscues limited their speed through the neutral zone and generally made them look discombobulated at times. When they were able to generate speed and use their skating game, the Kraken looked like the playoff team many believe them to be. The best news is that should improve through the season as they play together more.
• John Buccigross, who called the game for ESPN, told us on Tuesday’s show that hockey has a culture built on sacrifice. That was evident in this game. You saw it on the first Kraken goal as Donato was willing to take the physical punishment necessary to get himself to the area in front of the net. And the Golden Knights showed it late in the third period as they sacrificed the body to block two key shots – one to kill off the final penalty and another with the Kraken net empty.
• The Kraken played with speed and we saw their ability to control the puck in the offensive zone. What we did not see was much physicality. They were not overly aggressive in their checking, there was no post-whistle roughhousing, and certainly no fighting. Maybe that was a function of the opponent but it was a little surprising to me. For a team built on defense, usually physical play accompanies that.
• There are some talented dudes on this team who could grow into really good players. Morgan Geekie is young and makes some mistakes, but his offensive speed and creativity are legitimate weapons. Jordan Eberle is an established scorer, but I was impressed with his skating and ability to make his linemates better. He made a nice play at the blue line where he turned around, reached for a bad pass, then got himself turned back around to create a scoring chance.
• Those unis look so good. It’s a simple thing but it matters. I can’t wait to see them on the ice from the stands in the home opener on Oct. 23.