Last night the Kraken played in Anaheim to take on the Ducks as their second game in two nights, having beaten the San Jose Sharks the night before. However, on this winter’s day, Seattle’s California dreams of an undefeated road trip were dashed quickly.
This was a tough spot for the Kraken. Hockey is an extremely physical sport and playing games on consecutive days is a considerable disadvantage for that team, especially if it’s the road team. In addition, Anaheim hadn’t played since Sunday, exacerbating the advantage coming from the rest differential. Oh, also the Ducks are probably good.
With Chris Driedger getting the start the previous night, it was no surprise to see Philipp Grubauer back in net for the Kraken.
Seattle came out flat and looked like the slower team, having trouble getting the puck out of their own zone and facing sustained pressure by the Ducks. Grubauer was under pressure early, then right around the halfway mark of the period, Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak got caught being a little too aggressive (also known as a defenseman “pinching in”), putting him out of position for the opposing rush. Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras, who earlier this month made one of the most ridiculous plays of the year, had open space. Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell bumped Jared McCann into his own goaltender and Grubauer was unable to stop the shot. No goaltender interference was called, and the goal stood.
The Kraken went on the power play when Duck Sam Carrick went off for cross-checking, but disaster would soon strike: a turnover led to a 2-on-1 the other way for a shorthanded opportunity. Derek Grant went five-hole, where Grubauer has struggled this season, and suddenly the Kraken were down 2-0.
It was a brutal period, one where Anaheim had 79% of the shot quality. Oof.
The Ducks went on the power play after Mark Giordano was sent off for holding. Anaheim’s Cam Fowler shot the puck into traffic, where pinballed around until Troy Terry — who earlier this season had an absurd 16-point streak — found the puck among the chaos and his absolute beauty of a shot made the game 3-0 in favor of the Ducks.
Then, things got worse.
A collision between Jaden Schwartz and Sam Carrick in front of the net pushed into Philipp Grubauer, who looked uncomfortable and seemed clearly affected by the hit. Schwartz and Carrick were each assessed a penalty. Grubauer remained in the game — for the time being.
Seattle caught a break when the Ducks were given a penalty for too many men on the ice. The Kraken power play, which has been quite good after an initial poor start, was an opportunity to maybe get back in this game the way they did against Columbus the other night. Precision power play passing placed the puck past the goalie, and Ryan Donato scored his second goal in as many games with a big primary assist to Jordan Eberle.
A pretty goal from an even prettier pass. pic.twitter.com/vvyO9Yh81w— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 16, 2021
That one’s worth a second look to appreciate.
Pretty neat camera angle here on Donato’s shot pic.twitter.com/j8oDsZnKzF— Alison (@AlisonL) December 16, 2021
The Kraken finished the second period with a much better showing than the first period and the Donato goal gave them at least a shot. Sure, it’s not a favored position, but they could turn this around if things go their way in the third period!
Things did not go their way in the third period.
Seattle started the third period with Chris Driedger in net. Kraken fans alarmed about the Grubauer absence weren’t given any time to process their feelings when Jared McCann took a really hard hit on the backboards and was slow to get up.
Play went on, Anaheim got a power play where Joonas Donskoi almost had his first goal of the season on a shorthanded chance but it wasn’t meant to be. Anaheim’s puck possession looked a lot like the dominant first, but it wasn’t a great breakaway or odd-man rush that gave the Ducks their fourth goal. It was an impossible angle shot that bounced off Driedger's skate, and the locals were serenaded once again by one of the longest-running goal songs in the league.
Sam Carrick from an absurd angle. pic.twitter.com/mcHgY6Cm8v— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 16, 2021
The Kraken didn’t put up a very good showing aside from the second period, but the Grubauer injury is the bigger concern.
In the NFL, teams are required to submit reports of any injury that holds a player out of practice, if their practice was limited, which body part is affecting the player, and very often you get expected recovery timetables and updates.
In the NHL, teams meet the requirements by vaguely gesturing and mumbling a bit. They aren’t required to say very much at all, so they don’t.
What’s going on with Grubauer? Coach Hakstol would not say, other than Grubauer was “unavailable” but he did let us know that it was not an upper-body injury. So we’ve eliminated that, at least. Keep an eye on if the Kraken call up Joey Daccord from their AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers to read the tea leaves about Grubauer’s injury.
At least the Kraken get to come home (for another back-to-back, ugh) and get a couple of days' rest before they play their...
Next game: Saturday, 12/18 against the Edmonton Oilers at home. Puck drop: 7:00 PT / 10:00 ET