After poor debut season, this year’s Seattle Kraken sure are fun

Nov 2, 2022, 10:46 AM | Updated: Feb 5, 2023, 3:40 pm

Seattle Kraken...

Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken celebrates with the bench after scoring against the Calgary Flames on November 1, 2022. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

(Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken opened the third period in Calgary Tuesday night by allowing two goals in 16 seconds and suddenly found themselves down 4-2. That translates to a loss in most cases and Seattle saw its fair share of breakdowns like that last season.

Once they fell behind, the Kraken just didn’t have the firepower to come from behind. They played hard but lacked the skill.

“We have so much more confidence in this group,” Yanni Gourde, who’s third-period short-handed goal tied the game in the third period Tuesday, said. “Last year was last year, we have confidence in this group and we know we can rally back and we have the skill to do it. It’s a matter of putting one shift together. One shift and then the next line is up and then you take another good shift and you tilt the ice a little bit. Once they feel the pressure they start turning the puck over and you feel good about your game and then you make plays.”

That’s exactly what Seattle did Tuesday.

Kraken score 3 goals in 3rd period for 1st win over Flames

They made plays starting with a Daniel Sprong power-play goal to cut the lead. Then it was Gourde’s breakaway goal to tie and finally, rookie Matty Beniers finished a great pass from Jordan Eberle for the game-winner and the Kraken had earned a massive 5-4 win on the road against one of the top teams in their division.

The win improved the Kraken to a 5-4-2 record and third place in the Pacific Division with 12 points and in an early playoff position.

It was an exciting night Tuesday and the Kraken have won back-to-back games for the first time this season with three wins in their last four. Eleven games are still way too soon to start making conclusions about where the Kraken will ultimately end up and you still need about 20-25 games to get a true handle.

That said, one conclusion that can be made about the Kraken this year is that they’re fun.

Last season wasn’t fun, but the 11 games this season have been fun, win or lose. Will that be enough to propel them to the postseason in season two of the franchise? That is part of the fun after a year where they were hopelessly out of the conversation by November.

Goals are fun

Simply put, last season the Kraken could not score goals on a consistent basis. They averaged 2.6 goals a game and if they fell behind or gave up more than two goals, the game was pretty much over.

This season the Kraken are averaging 3.5 goals per game, nearly a full goal more. They are getting scoring from up and down the lineup and 19 different players have scored a goal, which is the most in the league. Defenseman Carson Soucy scored his first goal of the season Tuesday giving the Kraken goals from all six defensemen who have played a game this season, also an NHL best.

This summer, adding goals was the priority, and newcomers Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand have been as advertised. Burakovsky has three goals and is third in scoring with nine points through 11 games. Bjorkstrand has only scored one goal so far but he’s set up five goals and it’s obvious watching him that the goals are going to come.

Getting a healthy Jaden Schwartz back has been a huge benefit. Schwartz leads the team in scoring with five goals and 10 points through the first 11 games and has been a force. Playing on a line with the rookie Beniers, he’s been a perfect fit for Schwartz by winning puck battles and creating possessions.

Speaking of Beniers, he may be the most fun Kraken. He continues to blow expectations out of the water and leads NHL rookies in scoring with a knack for big moments already. Tuesday was the first game-winning goal of his young career but there is no doubt that many more are on the way.

The Kraken are scoring power-play goals as well. A year after struggling, Seattle set the tone with an opening night game against the Anaheim Ducks where they potted three power-play scores. They have not relinquished and through 11 games, the Kraken power play is clicking at a 26.8% success rate which is seventh best in the NHL.

Even on a night like Tuesday where the power play struggled through its first three attempts, they found a way to make an impact with a big power-play goal from Daniel Sprong.

Tuesday night the same hustle and hard work effort that the team showed last season, most times in defeat, were still there. The difference this season is that now they’ve added skill to that culture.

The intangibles

Goals are nice but beyond that, Kraken games have been exciting so far. There have only been two duds, one against the Vegas Golden Knights in which they gave up a goal 12 seconds into the game, and then again against the St. Louis Blues.

Two lop-sided games but also exciting wins against good teams. Seattle has beaten the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, and now Calgary Flames. All three were playoff teams last season and of course, the Avalanche are the defending Stanley Cup Champs.

As Gourde said Tuesday night, there is newfound confidence around the team this season and as a result, the hockey has been more entertaining than before.

There is a marathon of time left in the season and things are far from being settled but for now, the Kraken are a fun time where goals are being scored and they’re playing strong hockey.

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After poor debut season, this year’s Seattle Kraken sure are fun