SEATTLE KRAKEN

It’s a big week for the Seattle Kraken, who may be getting on a roll

Oct 26, 2022, 9:04 AM
Seattle Kraken Matty Beniers Daniel Sprong...
Matty Beniers celebrates his goal with Seattle Kraken teammate Daniel Sprong during their win over Buffalo on Oct. 25, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Last Friday night in Denver, the Kraken played as strong a game as they ever had. When the final horn sounded, they had earned a gutty 3-2 win against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

The win Friday felt like a defining moment for the young season and may have been the best win in the short history of the franchise. All those good feelings were doused a bit by Sunday’s frustrating loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in a game where all of Seattle’s warts were on display.

Chicago scored twice in 13 seconds – after Kraken mistakes – to tie the game and take the lead.

“In the third period we had the game going the way we wanted to,” head coach Dave Hakstol said after. “It comes down to we made two mistakes. One is on a breakout which is just a simple read for everybody, but we ad-libbed. And the game-winner right after, it is just on a return to D-zone and getting to the right spot, and we didn’t do those things. Those are things that come back to haunt you and they do it quick.”

The Kraken rebounded in a big way on Tuesday night, running away for a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres for their first win at home this season. Gone were the types of mistakes that have been costly in Seattle’s losses, especially Sunday.

Sprong has 3 points, Kraken start fast in 5-1 win over Sabres

When Seattle has played without mental lapses and mistakes, they have won, as they did both on Friday and Tuesday, as well as in an impressive early 4-1 win in Los Angeles. The Kraken sit at a 3-3-2 record, which is an accurate reflection of their play so far.

Inconsistency is the norm early on, and as they continue a three-game homestand that began with Tuesday’s victory, it’s a chance for Seattle to find its way and maybe pick up some wins.

Perspective on Tuesday’s win

There was a time not too long ago when playing the Sabres was considered an easy night that most likely would result in two points. But Buffalo’s rebuild is starting to hold and the Sabres are a talented hockey team off to a 4-2-0 start.

Buffalo came in having won its last three games by getting scoring and good goaltending, which was a big question mark heading into the season.

Tuesday was highlighted by being the first game between former Michigan teammates Matty Beniers and Sabres defenseman Owen Power. The two Wolverines were the first two picks of the 2021 NHL Draft, both choosing to return to college and led Michigan to the Frozen Four.

Advantage, Beniers.

Seattle couldn’t take the Sabres lightly – frankly, the Kraken aren’t in a position to take anyone lightly as they needed to clean up their play. Needless to say, they took care of business with the 5-1 win and got the big homestand off on the right foot.

Thursday: Vancouver Canucks

If you have been frustrated or disappointed in the Kraken’s start, the Canucks have no pity. Seattle’s division rivals have started 0-5-2 (click here for NHL standings). In their first five games, all losses, they held and blew a multiple-goal lead.

Ouch.

Things haven’t been pretty, as there has already been a player-only meeting, and during a Saturday night loss to Buffalo the fans voiced their displeasure with boos and a couple of jerseys thrown on the ice from the stands.

Star defenseman Quinn Hughes will not play in this game, out with a knee injury. Can the Kraken pull it together for their first-ever win over Vancouver? With no wins and without a key player, Vancouver is going to be desperate and Seattle has to match.

Saturday: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins are always a tough out when their two Hall of Famers to be, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, are in the lineup. They’ll both be there Saturday night. The team is 4-2-1 to start, and after six games Crosby and Malkin have combined for eight goals and 18 points.

Seemingly ageless, the duo will lead the Penguins on Saturday and the Kraken have to find a way to slow them down or match their output. Playing with discipline is key, not only with their team defense but on special teams. Pittsburgh’s power play was at 25% entering Tuesday – although it has not been as effective on the road –and the Kraken don’t need to take penalties against. They will also have to manage the puck well and avoid costly mistakes.

What do the Kraken need to do?

Puck management is key for the Kraken. Not just in the upcoming three home games, but for the remainder of the season.

When they take care of the puck, breakout in predictable ways, and avoid giveaways, they can skate with and beat the league’s best. When they become careless with the puck, they struggle, as evidenced by the loss in Chicago Sunday.

The schedule has been no friend to the Kraken. With travel and games every other night, the team has not had a full practice in some time. Seattle has practice scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, and they are much needed and should help clean up their play.

The Kraken will be without goalie Philipp Grubauer for some time after he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a lower-body injury, which means puck management and solid defensive play is more heightened to support Martin Jones in net. They showed they can do that in Denver when Jones came in to play the final nine minutes of the game and only faced one shot.

Good defense goes beyond just the six defensemen in the lineup. It’s a team endeavor and involves the forwards, as well. Awareness in their own zone and in transition will be key the rest of this week.

This week won’t make or break the Kraken season, but winning two of three at home can build some much-needed momentum and consistency moving forward in the season. The games can be won, as evidenced Tuesday, but Seattle will have to continue to step up its play.

Just how good can Matty Beniers become for the Seattle Kraken?

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It’s a big week for the Seattle Kraken, who may be getting on a roll