What we learned from 6-5 Kraken loss to NHL-leading Bruins in ‘classic’

Feb 24, 2023, 1:31 PM

Kraken Bruins...

Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken shields the puck from David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins on Feb. 23, 2023. (Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

Thursday night’s game between the Boston Bruins and Seattle Kraken was a classic. It was so good that an argument could be made that it was the first classic game in the brief history of Climate Pledge Arena. The Kraken came up short in a measuring stick contest against the NHL’s best in Boston. It was a back-and-forth affair that ended with the Bruins picking up a 6-5 win.

Jake DeBrusk scores late in 3rd period, Bruins edge Kraken 6-5

It had speed, it was physical, there were great plays by both ends, and by some of the best players the NHL has to offer.

“It’s a lot of fun playing those guys and they’re skilled team and play hard,” Kraken center Matty Beniers who scored a goal, said. “It stinks. We didn’t get to pull that one out, but it was, you know, a good game.”

In the bigger picture it did stink for Seattle in that the lost some ground in the playoff position but there are always things to learn when you go toe-to-toe with the league’s best. What did we learn about the Kraken from Thursday night?

The positives

As far as measuring sticks go, the Kraken look to be equals and can match up with Boston. They’ve already beat them once in Boston and now brought them to the brink a second time. The Bruins are the high end of what Seattle would see in the playoffs.

They never backed down, once.

The game was back and forth, neither club was able to get a two-goal lead at any point. The game was tied five times and even when Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a lead in the second period, the Kraken answered quickly.

Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the league and only allows 2.16 goals-per-game this year and the Kraken managed five on Thursday.

“It was a lot of fun,” Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton said. “Obviously, it kind of went off the rails a little bit. We’re not as used to those high-scoring games, (but) either way it was fun, it was electric, but we prevailed. We came out with two points, and that’s what you want.”

For a team that doesn’t give up much and has torched the NHL on the way to a 44-8-5 record, pushing them the way the Kraken did is huge.

“The compete level was outstanding all the way through the game,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “There was a lot of intensity in the game, there was pace. Obviously, a lot of back-and-forth, especially during the second period and then late in the hockey game.”

Thursday felt more like two heavyweights rather than a second-year upstart poking at the league’s best.

It was a huge improvement over the Kraken’s 4-0 loss in San Jose earlier in the week and a positive that they could rebound against a tough opponent. As the arena emptied out Thursday the feeling was that if Seattle plays that way from here on out, they’re going to win more than they’ll lose.

Looking at the underlying numbers, Seattle “won” two of the three periods.

In the first period, they had 58 percent of all shot attempts while 5-on-5 and 51 percent of the shot quality. Seattle was controlling the play against one of the best teams in the NHL. There was a similar story in the third period when those percentages were 51 percent and 60 percent in favor of the Kraken.

Boston flexed its muscle in the second period, but again, a sign that the Kraken were equals on Thursday.

The negative

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Seattle was in position to win the game, when Jaden Schwartz scored with just over four minutes left in the third to give Seattle a 5-4 lead. The Kraken gave up two late goals the way to ultimately losing.

“That’s the one that was a little bit too easy,” Hakstol said. “We didn’t make them work for that one, give them credit. They made a play.”

It was the theme all night. Response goals.

Allowing goals shortly after scoring yourself is a momentum killer and happened all night, by both teams, which was why the game was close. Nobody wanted the lead until it was over.

If the Kraken could have gained a two-goal cushion, maybe things might have gone differently. Giving up the response goals was an issue last season, has been improved this year, but we learned it’s not completey out of Seattes system.

While the game was fun, exciting, and had a playoff feel to it, Seattle did lose ground in the race to get into the playoffs.

The loss dropped the Kraken out of the Pacific Division’s top three spots, which are automatic playoff berths, into the top wild card spot. They are ahead of Colorado by three points, but the Avalanche have three games in hand.

Los Angeles and Edmonton have moved two points up on the Kraken in the Division but Seattle has a game in hand on both.

This season is too far along and the race is tightening up to the point where moral victories and proving you can play with the best is no longer good enough. The barbarians are at the door and Seattle needs to start banking points to fight them off. Evan an overtime loss Thursday night would have been preferable to losing the way the Kraken did.

Thursday proved the Kraken are a legit team that can play with anyone. Now, they need to get back to winning.

That can start Sunday afternoon when they not only have another test but an opportunity to earn two more points when the Toronto Maple Leafs arrive at Climate Pledge Arena.

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