BROCK AND SALK

Why are Kraken surging this season? What broadcaster Forslund sees

Nov 30, 2022, 2:34 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm

Seattle Kraken Oliver Bjorkstrand Ryan Donato...

Oliver Bjorkstrand and Ryan Donato of the Seattle Kraken celebrate a goal against Vegas on Nov. 25, 2022. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It’s a world of difference when you compare this second Seattle Kraken season to their first.

Following a wild 9-8 overtime win on the road over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, the Kraken are on a franchise-record six-game winning streak and have gone 11-1-1 over their last 13 contests. For the season Seattle has a 14-5-3 record, good enough for 31 points in the standings, just four behind the Pacific Division-leading Las Vegas Golden Knights (17-6-1, 35 points).

It’s quite the contrast when you remember where the Kraken were when December rolled around in 2021. At that time they were 8-13-1, and that was after a run of four wins in a five-game stretch vastly improved their record following seven losses in an eight-game stretch.

If anybody has insight on what’s been the difference, it’s John Forslund, the longtime NHL play-by-play announcer who has been the voice of the Kraken on ROOT Sports since the start of the franchise.

Forslund joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday, and he first had to address the previous night’s chaos.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said of the high-scoring win over the Kings. “But for the Kraken, they find ways to win games.”

That they do. A big reason is the offensive firepower they’ve added, and some players who are fully healthy for their second seasons with Seattle after injuries interrupted their 2021-22 campaigns.

“Ron Francis, the GM, deserves a lot of credit. He was able to address weaknesses in a year where they were plenty,” Forslund said. “And by doing so, you have to look at depth and scoring depth. Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand along with a healthy Jaden Schwartz, who didn’t play the majority of last season, (and) a healthy Brandon Tanev, who went out with a real bad knee injury, as you know, in the middle of December. (That) sucked the life out of the locker room, took the life out of the breaths of the fan base just because he’s such an energetic player. Those four guys are added to a forward group and that kind of rounds it out. And for this team to be successful as they are, it has to be a balanced attack of four lines.”

There’s a big factor off the ice, as well. Forslund said the usual struggles an expansion team faces were amplified by the Kraken’s first season coming in the middle of the pandemic.

“The team had some miserable days during the first year, and the days were miserable not only because of the record but I think the COVID protocols that surrounded all teams, but especially an expansion team, were really difficult,” he said. “These are 23 guys that didn’t know each other, and because of the restrictions couldn’t get to know each other in a real sense. Couldn’t go to each other’s houses, couldn’t have parties, couldn’t get together on the road. When this team traveled on the road, they went to their rooms and that was all you could do. And then there was testing the next day and you play the game and 45 people get on an airplane and everybody has a mask on and no one’s supposed to talk to each other.”

Needless to say, things have become significantly easier in that regard for the Kraken.

“Now this year, they come back to a city where they’re familiar, they know their way around town, they have some friends outside hockey, I’m sure, which is really important in your neighborhood. And then you have this (surge by the Kraken) happen, and the COVID restrictions have been lifted for now, which is great. So I see an energy around the team that I did not see in the first season.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Forslund in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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