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Feeling blue as the Kraken lose 2-1 to St. Louis

Which will break first, the Kraken’s losing streak or Donskoi’s goal-less streak?

Marcus Johansson has fallen backwards on goaltender Ville Husso as another Blues player collides into them both Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Make it 8 games in a row now. The Kraken’s losing streak keeps growing longer, and I’m going to be honest with you — it’s not fun.

It feels like the wind has been taken out of the sails of the team’s inaugural season, and it sucks! At the start of the season, I thought my expectations weren’t unreasonable that this was a team that, after overcoming some early diversity, would put things together and start consistently winning games. Instead, they’re consistently losing them.

Tonight’s game in particular felt like more of a bummer than some of the others in this streak. It had a good start. There was some hope for once. For it to all fall apart as it did was crushing. But that also feels like a bit of a microcosm of how this season’s been going. Every time the Kraken give some sign that maybe they’re going to finally figure out how to get going, it doesn’t entirely work.

Granted, recent circumstances haven’t helped a whole lot. The team has had players on and off of the COVID-19 list. The Kraken have had multiple postponements as the NHL deals with both the ever-changing nature of outbreaks through the league and their (probably not all that smart) conception that they can make more money off of Canadian games if they’re played once attendance restrictions go away. Then combine that with injury: Morgan Geekie is out day-to-day, Jaden Schwartz week-to-week, and Brandon Tanev is out for the entire season. Actually, it’s dawning on me as I’m writing this that the Kraken haven’t won a single game since Tanev’s injury. I wish I hadn’t realized that, because thanks, brain, I hate it.

Chris Driedger defends the net to the left of him as Ivan Barbashev plays the puck Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

None of it has been easy for the Kraken, but here’s the thing: good NHL teams figure out how to overcome adversity. Seattle has been tested a lot over the course of this first season, but it doesn’t feel like they’ve figured out the key yet to being truly resilient.

Yet, I’m not going to be a complete downer in this recap. Let’s look at some of the good things that happened against the St. Louis Blues first.

Wennberg’s goal

There are honestly multiple things to love about Alex Wennberg getting the Kraken on the board during the first period. Firstly is that the Kraken actually had the opening goal for once! In Dan’s recap of yesterday’s Stars game, he pointed out that the Kraken still have a problem in allowing goals against way too early in the game. In doing that, they’re more often than not allowing the opponent to gain the lead first. But not this time!

What else I loved about this goal is that Seattle is getting contributions from someone other than the usual suspects. This was only Wennberg’s 4th goal of the season. Now, it’s not like he’s slacking in other areas of the ice. He’s in a three-way tie for most assists with Schwartz and Donskoi with 14 each, but the goal-scoring stats are still very top-heavy on this Kraken team. Tanev’s been out for 6 games now and no one has bumped him from being the third-best goal scorer on the team. They can’t rely on him anymore, and asking only McCann and Eberle, our wonderful All-Star, to do all the goal scoring is a bit much.

When I said good NHL teams figure out how to overcome adversity, this is one of the ways they do it. When valuable players go down, others step up and fill the void. The Kraken need goals to come from more than just the same handful of people. Even though Wennberg’s playmaking is valuable, when there are only so many goal scorers to go around, it’s good to see him step up and do it himself for once.

Speaking of playmakers who I’d like to see score more goals, what do we have to do to let Donskoi score his first? Do I need to try to resort to some witchcraft and create a goal summoning spell for him? Make an alter to the hockey gods? Seriously, someone help this poor man, because he is trying his best.

Driedger’s big saves

Okay, yes, the Kraken lost the game, but they didn’t lose it because of Chris Driedger. Saving 25 out of 27 shots for a .926 save percentage is a good job, and he made many acrobatic saves in this game.

As I was watching through the first and second periods, I began to ask myself why the Kraken don’t try to utilize Driedger more. There’s been stints where he’s been injured, and that hasn’t helped, but he’s only had the starting nod for 8 games. Considering the Kraken rolled out the red carpet for him on the day of the expansion draft and made it seem like he was going to be their starting goaltender, obviously the organization had enough trust in him to start with. Grubauer’s performance has had better moments as of late, but I still want to see more of what Driedger is capable of.

This is especially so when, truly, the Kraken are going to need to evaluate which players do and don’t stick around by the time the trade deadline comes around or during the offseason. We’ve already opened the discussion on whether Giordano ends up as trade bait just as an idea for where this team’s near future is going. The Kraken are going to be sellers at the deadline and probably will need a busy offseason, and it would be nice to get a better idea of what should be done about goaltending. Give Driedger a chance to play more so the team can make a truly informed decision about this position.

Penalty kill (mostly) comes up big

This point is honestly both good and bad. It’s good because the Kraken’s penalty kill really managed to kill off four straight against the NHL’s second best power play. It’s an impressive feat, especially considering that Dunn decided that serving Driedger’s tripping penalty wasn’t enough and immediately turned around and put himself back in the box. Might as well have been killing off a double minor instead!

But just as the penalty kill being amazing is a good thing, it’s bad that the Kraken even had to rely on it as much as they did. Committing five penalties against the second best power play in the NHL is a foolish choice. They effed around, and eventually the Kraken found out as the Blues’ fifth power play provided the game-winning blast.

It was disheartening as the Kraken had been playing so well throughout the first two periods. They were defending the way they needed to. Maybe scoring more than just 1 goal would have helped, but again, the team lacks in scoring power. The Kraken were playing how they needed to in order for a 1-goal lead to stay pat.

Yet, as John Forslund pointed out after Wennberg’s goal, the Blues are one of the better comeback teams in the league.

Maybe next time, Kraken. Maybe next time. Because this losing streak has to come to an end eventually.

Next game: Seattle Kraken vs LA Kings at Climate Pledge Arena. Puck drop 7:00 pm PT / 10:00 pm ET.