The Kraken wrapped up their first preseason with a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. While Vince Dunn certainly had himself a night, scoring two goals less than three minutes apart, it was Philipp Grubauer who stole the show for Seattle.
Star of the game
Grubauer finished the evening with a perfect 38 saves on 38 shots on net. It was a stellar performance from Seattle’s biggest free agent acquisition. The Kraken defense showed some, well, cracks, as they allowed a barrage of shots from the high slot, high danger area of the ice. But on nights when Grubauer is on, it really doesn’t matter.
In a preseason where Chris Driedger has struggled (he allowed 4 goals on 13 shots in his start last Saturday) getting a top-end performance from their starter provides some assurance that the team can be as good at preventing goals as everyone anticipates.
Vince Dunn looked like the Kraken’s best defenseman most of the night. While his defensive ability is solid enough in its own right, it’s his knack for switching into offensive mode that really brings another element to this Kraken team. Dunn opened the scoring in the second period with a big ol’ power play clapper from the point. What was perhaps even more impressive, however, was the way in which he helped Seattle get on that power play in the first place.
Follow Vince Dunn (29) on this shift leading up to the powerplay. He's all over the offensive zone helping move the puck around. This is great stuff. pic.twitter.com/qeV1LWpAgb— Emerald City Hockey (@EmeraldCityHky) October 6, 2021
Keeping your opponent hemmed in in their own defensive zone for a long period of time usually ends well—tired legs on the ice lead to lazy plays which lead to taking penalties. Dunn’s ability to keep the play alive and open up space for his teammates eventually led to Canucks defenseman Jack Rathbone taking a cross-checking penalty. Two minutes later, Seattle is on the board with a power play goal.
Dunn’s second of the night came just a few short minutes later, and it was another view into his ability to jump up into the play and find open space in the offensive zone.
Some great puck movement from two-thirds of the Kraken’s top line also needs to be highlighted. This wasn’t an odd-man rush— if anything, it’s a 2-on-3, as Jaden Schwartz is almost run into by the backchecking Canucks forward whose name I can’t quite make out just before sliding the puck to Jared McCann. But the way the two forwards switch sides of the ice to get the Vancouver defenders out of position is key to opening up the lane in the middle of the ice, which Dunn fits perfectly. Bam, 2-0 hockey game, and Seattle never looks back.
The next time we watch Kraken hockey, it’ll be in a regular season matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights, on ESPN, and the standings points will count. The last week of waiting is sure to be excruciating, but we’ll have plenty of content to fill the void in the meantime. Be on the lookout for fellow DJLR writer Tim as he wraps up the entire preseason later on this week. Until next time, let’s go Kraken.