Lefko: New challenge for Seattle Kraken — hold onto a lead

Nov 10, 2021, 11:51 AM

Seattle Kraken Chris Driedger...

Reilly Smith of the Vegas Golden Knights deflects a pass past Seattle Kraken goalie Chris Driedger. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The 4-2 Seattle Kraken loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night unraveled in many of the same ways the Kraken lost on Saturday in Arizona.

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If there has been one glaring weakness and reminder that this is an expansion team, it lies in the fact that the Kraken (4-8-1) are still learning how to win. The winning mentality and comfort of playing the same way regardless of the score is built through battle-tested minutes on the ice. Seattle’s players don’t have the luxury of years of experience together, but the rude awakening of blown leads could accelerate the urgency of learning how to finish.

The loss to the Coyotes (1-10-1) on Saturday was tough for a variety of reasons but the final, painful dagger was giving up the game-winning goal 13 seconds after tying the game 4-4 in the third period. It capped off a loss to a team that was to that point winless on the season, one that the Kraken had appeared to be cruising past after scoring two goals within the first minute of the game.

The same issue manifested itself on Tuesday against the Golden Knights. Mere seconds (OK, it was all of 15 seconds this time) after the Kraken took a 2-1 lead, the Knights swooped down the ice and scored to tie the game.

It’s a familiar script that has played out across a handful of games already this season, most notably in the home opener against Vancouver, but the speed of yielding critical goals during the last two games has made this trend a much more glaring concern. The Kraken are already enduring the growing pains of finding chemistry on the ice, developing goal scorers, and struggling to score on the power play. Throw this into the mix as another source of adversity and learning experience for this team to overcome.

If there is a silver lining to take away, it’s that the Kraken have been in the lead in enough games for this to have become a trend. A loss is still a loss, but the alternative is getting completely outplayed from the start, which has not been the case this season except for the losses against the Flyers and Oilers. Right now the Kraken are showing that they are good enough to hang for most of a game with the majority of teams in the league.

Now it’s time to prove they can take that next, critical step: seizing the opportunity to close out games.

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