Gather round folks, it’s okay. This is a safe space.
The Avalanche blew the doors off of this struggling Kraken team on Friday night in front of a national audience. On the bright side, it was an ESPN+ exclusive, so anyone who relies solely on television broadcasts did not get a chance to watch it. If you don’t want to revisit the first 45 minutes of this one, go ahead and skip down to the last section to see the good stuff.
Chris Driedger got the start in net tonight. Philipp Grubauer has been having the worst season of his career so far, so getting more of a rotation going makes sense for head coach Dave Hakstol. And at the end of the day, it turns out he didn’t completely rob Grubauer of the chance to play against his former team (more on that later).
Ryan Donato took a hooking penalty in the offensive zone three minutes into the game and it led to yet another early goal allowed for Seattle. Through 17 games, Seattle has allowed a goal to their opponent within the first 5 minutes 7 different times. Once again, they would be playing this one from behind.
Seattle had a chance to get right back into this one just a minute later when Colorado’s Samuel Girard took a cross checking penalty. However, that opportunity backfired after a misplayed defensive pinch in the offensive zone left Valeri Nichushkin with a breakaway with no Kraken player even on the same screen as him on the broadcast.
And so Seattle entered the first intermission with the all-too-familiar 2-0 deficit to overcome. At least they have a history of playing better in the 2nd period this year.
Well, as it turns out, tonight was not exactly a typical Kraken game flow. Colorado extended their lead to 3-0 just 3 minutes into this frame on a wrist shot by Cale Makar that Driedger never really saw. Just 2 minutes later Andre Burakovksy would make it a 4-0 game and end Driedger’s night. Philipp Grubauer came in in relief and played the final 35 minutes of this contest.
Colorado added two more goals this period — a second from Makar and one from Erik Johnson, of all people.
Johnson said after the game that he never even scored on Grubauer in 4 years of practice during Grubauer’s tenure with the Avalanche. Love to be the team full of firsts, am I right?
In the 2nd period, the period Seattle typically outshoots and out-chances their opponent by a solid margin, the Kraken got nothing going. Colorado outshot Seattle 14-6, total shot attempts were even worse at 25-9 in favor of the Avs, and it all culminated in a 4-goal period that all but put this one in the books.
Okay, time to at least get something positive to take away from this Lemony Snicket series of unfortunate events. Overcoming a 6-goal deficit isn’t a reasonable expectation, but they could still find something to build on in the final period to bring some positiv—
Ope, Colorado scored again. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, fresh off a waiver claim, gets his first as an Av.
Look, at the end of the day, Colorado is a really, really good hockey team. They’re the betting favorites not just to win their division, but to win the whole Stanley Cup. This was never going to be an easy game, or even a game Seattle was likely to win. There’s no shame in losing to the Colorado Avalanche.
That being said, there is some shame to be had in giving up a touchdown’s worth of goals to any team, no matter how good they are. See, good teams like the Avalanche win all the time. But this score? At this point in the game? Good teams only do that to bad teams.
Are the Kraken a bad team? Maybe! I hope not! But the signs right now aren’t good. There’s still talent in this roster, but something major is going to have to shift to get them to play up to their full potential.
Good vibes only, start here
Now, there were in fact some positives after this point in the game. The first of which being, who else, Jordan Eberle!
Ebs with his team-leading ninth goal of the season pic.twitter.com/X5PvnuwKrj— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) November 20, 2021
Eberle extended his point streak to 7 games, tying a career-high. He, and really that top line with Jaden Schwartz and Alex Wennberg, has been the brightest and most consistent part of this offense in recent weeks.
Less than 3 minutes later, Brandon Tanev ended his 8-game goal-less draught with his own rebound goal.
Not only is that a bright spot for Turbo and Eberle, that also happens to be two consecutive power play goals! We’ve spent plenty of time worrying about Seattle’s struggling power play, so to see them finish the evening cashing in on 2/4 opportunities was good to see. That’s one less cause for concern this weekend.
But wait! There’s more! Colin Blackwell, in just his third game with the team after recovering from a lower-body injury, got his first goal of the year!
That’s just a good, hard-working, tough-forechecking goal. Seattle is going to need more like that to go their way to break out of this slump.
All in all, it was the worst we’ve seen Seattle look in Climate Pledge Arena. It was also the hardest competition they’ll face there this year, which means it shouldn’t get any worse. But the schedule ahead doesn’t exactly scream “this is where they’ll get back on track” either. Up next are home games against the Washington Capitals (2nd in Metro) and the Carolina Hurricanes (1st in Metro) followed by back-to-back road games against Tampa Bay (reigning Cup champions) and Florida (1st in Atlantic). The good news is they’ll be underdogs in every game and that means we can only be pleasantly surprised.