Kraken ring in 2023 with focused, fundamental 4-1 win over Islanders

Seattle, WA – Shaking off any sort of aftereffects from celebrating the New Year, the Seattle Kraken displayed a complete team effort to beat the New York Islanders. Eeli Tolvanen, acquired off waivers weeks ago, was a highlight of the win as not only did he display his rocket shot for a goal, but blocked several shots. Despite the Islanders tying the game in the first period on a somewhat easy attempt by former Seattle Thunderbird Mathew Barzal, the Kraken remained locked in and did not let the goal snowball into a bigger issue. The win begins a tough month of January on the right foot for Seattle, who now embark on a nearly two-week road trip.

Seattle’s ugly, embarrassing 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers two days ago was a master class on the things not to do in a hockey game. The factor that stood out the most was, which has been a lingering issue until it was fully exposed in that game, was the lack of full effort and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. There was a complete 180 in that department as the Kraken were blocking shots, had active sticks, and were willing to check throughout the game. Seattle stayed true to their structure defensively and on the penalty kill. It was exactly the sort of tough, gritty hockey that the Kraken need to play if they want to play more hockey once the regular season ends. Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol spoke about his team’s effort to media, postgame.

“Every night is a little bit different, but our readiness and mentality was just better. It was right tonight… What I liked more than Eeli’s power play goal was that he was willing to block shots. He blocked a couple

big shots from the line, he managed the puck well, he checked pretty well. From top to bottom that’s a nice start for him,” Hakstol reflected.

Continuing with that statement by Hakstol, Eeli Tolvanen really made his debut in Kraken colors one to remember. The young forward, having spent weeks as a healthy scratch with the team, made sure he grabbed his moment firmly with a power play goal, two hits, and three blocks on the night. Following the thrashing to the Oilers the other night, a lineup change was in order, and inserting the forward with the heavy shot into the gameplan made sense. Seattle’s depth has been positive all season long, from all four forward lines to the defensemen pairs that have been able to chip in well offensively. It seems that Tolvanen adds to this and makes lineup decisions going forward a little more interesting. Tolvanen discussed his first start in a Seattle uniform.

“It felt really good, it’s been a while since I’ve played my last game so it’s always nice to get the first goal out of the way in the first game… Dunner told me to shoot it as soon as I got it, and that’s what I did… I kinda blacked out for a bit there… I felt really good since I last hopped on the ice,” Tolvanen stated.

While it’s just one game following an ugly three game stretch, Seattle showed great improvements in the areas that they needed to get better. More willingness to sacrifice the body by checking and blocking shots. More alert, aware, focused defensemen limited New York to a goal that was essentially let in by Martin Jones and a handful of potentially dangerous opportunities. The power play showed improved strategy, in large part to the team shooting the puck instead of trying to get too fancy. If the Kraken are able to continue this performance and turn those individuals notes into characteristics, this team is well suited for a strong January run.

Seattle will now spend 13 days away from Climate Pledge Arena, playing seven games over that time. The Kraken begin the tough road trip with a January 3rd rematch against the Edmonton Oilers. Seattle will head to Rogers Place, looking to avenge the 7-2 loss when they drop the puck against Edmonton at 6PM PST. As both teams currently sit at 42 points, the winner of the game will move into the third place spot in the Pacific Division.