Seattle, WA – The Winnipeg Jets would be the newest team to take advantage of the version of Kraken hockey that we have seen the most this season: A defense that is sloppy with the puck, allows goals early, and can’t take advantage on the power play. The past two losses have encapsulated the majority of Seattle’s season, and it remains to be seen if Seattle can get over its own mistakes.
The first period woes continued when Carson Soucy would turn the puck over behind the Kraken net, and Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny would find a streaking Dominic Toninato to give the Jets the lead just over five minutes into the game. After the early goal, Seattle seemed to settle down and start to put some pressure on Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. The game from there would be a goaltender battle, as Grubauer and Hellebuyck would trade great save after great save.
The second period provided no scores, just a period full of the Kraken putting pressure on but not able to convert, even with numerous power play opportunities. Just 47 seconds into the final period, Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele would draw in three puck watching Kraken skaters and fire a pass to a wide-open Kyle Connor to extend the Jets lead to 2-0. Despite being down two goals, Philipp Grubauer made several saves to keep Seattle within striking distance. And as the rest of the game had gone, Hellebuyck held Seattle out of the goal. With a little over five minutes left Kyle Connor would take the puck past the Kraken defense, who looked like they were asleep, and put the third and final goal into the net for the nail in the coffin.
For a team that had its defense talked up heading into the season, Seattle has not lived up to it. As has been seen and said by those who have followed the Kraken this year, turnovers in their own zone, puck watching, and not being in position have all doomed this team this year. Perhaps, if the Seattle offense was putting up three to four goals a night, then it would not be such a glaring issue. That has also not been the case, with the power play lingering near dead last in the league for the majority of the year. In tonight’s case, Seattle came away with nothing on five power play attempts, and really never got a solid attempt off on any of them.
The team needs to find a way to get better consistently on the defensive end, and just stay more consistent as a whole. The talent is there, and that was shown when the team beat Edmonton, Florida, Carolina, and Washington in a seven-game span. Head coach Dave Hakstol, goaltender Philipp Grubauer, and captain Mark Giordano all shared their insight on what they think needs to get better moving forward.
“One of our standards is competing… we have competition (at the defenseman lines), it’s not just young guys that are competing for spots and opportunities. You want that competition but you don’t want guys to be jittery when they’re in the lineup and worried about that. We just hope that the six guys in the lineup are feeling good about their preparation and that their confident to do the job on that given night,” Hakstol remarked prior to this game. With players like Lauzon and Fleury being scratched from this game, changes on the defensive lines could be coming.
“I think every night it’s about execution, it’s not just one game. Adapting and learning how to take what the other team gives you and what’s not there for us… Just gotta execute plays and be on top. Reading the situation and being smart about what we do,” is what goaltender Philipp Grubauer had to say about what he saw wrong with the past two games.
Captain Mark Giordano was asked about the Kraken not being able to score on the league’s second worst power play kill, and said this “They were aggressive and they were blocking shots. When they didn’t, their goalie made some big saves. We just have to sharpen up, we were a little guilty of not being quick enough on the power play… we gotta learn how to win those ones and play in those games.”
The Kraken will look to snap their losing streak on Saturday, December 11th against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Climate Pledge arena. Puck drop is at 7PM PST