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The Kraken have a problem with the “answer goal”

I would like to exit the roller coaster please

Vancouver Canucks v Seattle Kraken Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

There has been some sort of curse on the Kraken all season long, and it has become markedly clearer since returning form the holiday break. It’s the problem with the “answer goal.”

The Seattle Kraken have this neat little quirk where many times when they score a big goal, they let their opponents answer with a goal of their own almost immediately afterwards. While it’s happened literally since their first ever regular season game, it has vaulted to the forefront of the conversation this week since Seattle has allowed that answer goal in three consecutive games.

These goals are just absolute killers in more ways than one. For starters, the score is essentially unchanged despite the Kraken getting one in the net. If they were down by a goal and scored to tie it up, well, no they didn’t because the other team has the lead again before they can even announce who scored over the arena’s PA system. If they’re down by two and score to get within one? Nope. All but never happened. That two goal lead is still there.

It’s important to compare the Kraken’s propensity for giving up the answer goal to the rest of the NHL here too. It obviously feels like it happens to Seattle all the time, but there are 31 other teams out there that have all played about 30 games too. Is it really just a Seattle problem, or is it something we’ve blown up in our minds because it happened in three straight games? Short answer, it really is a Seattle problem.

A table showing the Kraken are allowing a goal within a minute of scoring more often than any other NHL team

The Kraken allow a goal within one minute of scoring after 8.7% of their goals this year. That’s the highest rate in the NHL through the new year. So it’s not just your brain, it really does happen a lot more often when the Kraken are involved.

They did actually have a decent stretch without allowing those answers — after the Vegas Golden Knights did it to them in the 2nd period of their November 9th game (yes, Vegas has an answer goal in both games against the Kraken this year), Seattle made it all the way to the holiday break without allowing another goal within a minute of scoring — a full 17 games. That streak included the stretch where they won 5 of 7 games over some stiff competition as well. Which means they do in fact have the ability to shut the answer goal down at times.

“Trust me, we’re trying not to get scored on,” said defenseman Adam Larsson after Seattle’s 5-2 loss to the Canucks on January 1st. “I think we should expect the push and I don’t know, it’s frustrating. But at the same time we’ve had some answers to those goals too. Every team goes through it throughout the year, you go through ups and downs as a team and as an individual.”

Larsson is correct, they have had ups along with those downs. And they have had answer goals of their own, scoring within a minute of an opposing goal 5 times — that’s right around league average, ranking 18th in the NHL at this point. At least they’re not the Red Wings, who have failed to score an answer goal all year.

One of the worst parts about the answer goals the Kraken have allowed is the amount that have come in the third period alone. It’s one thing when they give one up to Arizona in the first minute of the game and have their lead cut from two to one — it’s another entirely when they give one up to Arizona in the final minute of a tie game. A full 6 of Seattle’s 8 answer goals allowed have come in the third period — three of them in the final 3 minutes of the game.

A table showing the Kraken allow a goal within a minute of scoring on 16.2% of their third-period goals

This is the same table from above, but limited to third period goals only. Seattle has allowed an answer goal on basically one in every six third-period goals they’ve scored so far this season. Three of them came after the Kraken tied it late. It’s just such a bummer when it happens. Any momentum or energy or warm fuzzy feelings that come from believing the team is about to engineer a comeback just get zapped immediately, and suddenly nobody expects the team to win this game any more. And for good reason too, as Seattle still has yet to win a game in which they trailed after two periods.

“We had a great shift,” said Mark Giordano after the Kraken’s December 30th loss to the Calgary Flames. “We got a lot of pucks to the net, we scored and then again — it happened to us last game and it happened to us tonight. It’s disappointing. Those bounce back shifts are huge. Frustrating way to lose a game. Not much more to say right now.”

There is a problem facing this team right now in the immediate aftermath of scoring a big goal, and honestly I’m not exactly sure how to fix it. It’s not as though they give one up after every center ice faceoff — it’s pretty much isolated to those that come after scoring a goal. Maybe they’re getting in their own heads right now and overthinking things. Maybe they need some sort of resilience training. Whatever they need, let’s hope head coach Dave Hakstol and the veteran leadership group in the room can figure it out sooner rather than later and get this team back to having fun again.