Seattle, WA – A worrying trend for the 2022-2023 Seattle Kraken has been their lack of a consistently dependable defensive effort, and that has been ever-present in six of their past seven games. A defensive breakdown and three consecutive turnovers leading to breakaways gave the visiting Montreal Canadiens four goals on just eight shots, all through the first two periods. Rookie Shane Wright’s first NHL goal, scored against the team that was supposed to select him, was a small victory in a lost battle for Seattle. Although the NHL season isn’t even a third of the way through, the Kraken have glaring issues to improve upon in order to stay the course towards a postseason berth.
The Kraken have been in many high scoring contests this season, which has pros and cons. A pro is that the Seattle attack is far improved and has often been good enough to outweigh many negatives. The worrisome negative is that the defensive issues the Kraken have been dealing with have not gotten better, and allow their opponents to remain in games. Two primary defensive problems were on display in this loss; leaving skaters open and making simple mistakes. Montreal’s first goal was an example of the former, as Johnathan Kovacevic beat Martin Jones cleanly and could have done his taxes with the amount of room he was left to operate with. The second period saw three easy Montreal goals, all being scored off of sloppy play in the form of bad turnovers, losing faceoffs, and getting caught in poor position. Prior to tonight’s game, Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol made comments about the loss to Florida, many of which rang true in this contest.
“This one’s about us. Getting back at it, not really happy with our performance coming out of the other night. A really winnable game that we came up short in some of the detailed and gritty areas of the hockey games. It has nothing to do with the situation of our opponent, this is about us needing to get back to what we do, and do it well,” Hakstol remarked.
The bright spot in tonight’s loss was 18-year-old Shane Wright netting his first goal in the NHL. It appeared to be the stars aligning for Wright, playing in his first contest since an AHL Conditional Loan stint with the Coachella Valley Firebirds. The hotly discussed skater was able to find early success in this game, potting his first goal as a pro against the team that was long projected to select Wright before passing up on him in this past NHL entry draft. From staring down the Montreal table at the draft, rumors of a bad attitude, being a healthy scratch nearly all season to now, Wright still has a long journey ahead. Amidst all the chaos that is being thrown at someone who is just crossing into the threshold of adulthood, finding the back of the net for the first time in his career has to be a sort of calming relief. Wright reflected on the moment, postgame.
“I think it’s obviously something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Your first NHL goal is a pretty cool accomplishment, a pretty cool milestone, something that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life…. I pictured myself jumping right in and scoring a bunch, but that’s not the reality. You have to make sure you earn everything you get,” Wright stated.
Following the end of their three-game homestand, the Kraken now head out to the East coast for a four-game road trip. That slate begins
on Friday, December 9th against the Washington Capitals, the team Seattle was able to vanquish just seven seconds into overtime back on the first of this month. The two teams will have a rematch on the 9th inside of Capital One Arena, with a puck drop of 4PM PST. Seattle will be eager to remove any lingering negatives from their past two losses, and to start a tough road trip the right away.