KRAKEN

Seattle Kraken New Year’s Resolutions: 3 ways they can improve in ’22

Jan 3, 2022, 10:41 AM
Seattle Kraken Calle Jarnkrok...
Seattle Kraken center Calle Jarnkrok just misses a shot against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Jones on Dec. 29. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

When New Year’s Day falls on a weekend, the resolutions you make don’t begin until the Monday after (everyone knows that, of course). So in the spirit of the Seattle Kraken falling back into their old ways in Saturday’s loss to the Canucks, these are resolutions they need to make going forward, starting with their next game Thursday against Ottawa.

Stop allowing quick goals.

Whether it is early in a game or seemingly every time after a key goal to tie or take the lead, the Kraken have been reckless in allowing teams to get on the board quickly. They have a minus-13 goal differential in the first period, the third-worst mark in the NHL. That creates a lot of situations playing from behind, which isn’t ideal for any team and certainly not one that is offensively challenged and still looking for dominant goal scorers.

Yet the most glaring issue continues to be giving up a goal immediately after scoring one. There is no official NHL stat that measures the worst teams in that category, but you have to think the Kraken lead in the league in “wow, that team already scored before the official PA announcement about the Kraken goal that happened 30 seconds ago.”

On back-to-back nights last week, the Kraken allowed a goal to the Flyers 13 seconds after scoring to take the lead, then fought back to tie the game against the Flames, only to see Calgary take the lead 15 seconds later.

It’s a problem that has plagued them since their first regular season game when they clawed back from a three-goal deficit to a 3-3 tie, only for it to be promptly broken by the Golden Knights just 35 seconds later. And who could forget the meltdown in Arizona? That was capped off by allowing the game-winning goal to the Coyotes a mere 13 seconds after tying the game.

Faster starts.

This falls slightly in line with not allowing quick goals early in the first period, but it’s more so Bout the offense needing to get off to a fast start. Scoring an early goal or two puts the pressure on the opponent, lets them know it will be a long night, and it helps ease the burden of your own goalie when he knows he has some breathing room to work with. The Kraken are towards the bottom half of the league in scoring in the first period, and it can just wreck the confidence or momentum a goalie had coming into a game if he lets in a couple of easy ones early.

Even more pressing for the Kraken is the fact they are last in first period goals allowed (37) so they haven’t been able to spend much time playing in front, which might be why they seem dead set on giving it up as soon as possible.

A new franchise, especially one that has gotten off to a rough start, doesn’t have the benefit of time to develop how they respond to adversity or early deficits over the course of a game. It has boiled down to an incredibly simple metric for the Seattle Kraken: when they trail early, they lose. They have a 1-14 record when trailing after the first period this season; contrast that with a 6-2 mark when ahead after that opening frame. Score early and play from in front.

Be selfish around the net.

The downside to not having an established veteran scorer, a workhorse who you can count on to get goals, is that often guys aren’t looking to get to the net, instead choosing the unselfish play to try and find the extra pass that sets up a perceived better look. It’s almost too polite, players who aren’t used to playing with each other not wanting to be the one that causes chemistry issues because they are hogging the puck. However, when you absolutely need a goal, who is going to crash the net or take over and provide the scoring punch?

The Seattle Kraken are remarkably balanced in their scoring: 14 players have between 10 and 22 points, yet therein lies the problem. No one has more than 22 points after 33 games this season. Jordan Eberle leads the Kraken with 22 points, but on the list of points leaders in the NHL you have to go down to the 90th spot before Eberle’s name pops up on the list.

It is slightly better if we’re just looking at goals, where Jared McCann’s team-leading 13 are good enough for 25th in the league.

None of the players on the Kraken roster have ever been “the guy” on a team; it’s why they weren’t protected by the rosters they were plucked from in the expansion draft. It is an unfamiliar position to be in, but as we get close to the midway point of the season, it is becoming time for guys like McCann, Eberle and Yanni Gourde to start being more assertive in getting the puck on their stick in the offensive zone.

New Year’s resolutions seem to come in threes, so we’ll leave it at that for the Kraken. The hope is that these carry through the rest of the season and don’t end up like most resolutions: neglected after a couple of weeks.

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