The Kraken hadn’t played hockey since Sunday night. That was three off-days to mull over what had happened in that crushing overtime loss where the game slipped from their hands almost too suddenly. Taking penalties caused the Jets to tie it up, and overtime ended swiftly. Going into this game with the New York Rangers, the Kraken needed to prove that they were resilient enough to overcome that loss, and they needed to do so against a strong team. The Kraken were up for the challenge in this one.
Disclaimer: I don’t believe that Twitter is going to poof into the ether immediately, but also, if my embedded posts go wonky or disappear in the near future, I’m sorry. I haven’t thought of an alternate way to thread game clips throughout a blog yet. At least all the game clips can also be found here on YouTube in one handy video.
Before fully diving into the action, it’s important to note that this game marked the Kraken’s Hockey Fights Cancer night. The team celebrated the night appropriately in all aspects. The players wore lavender jerseys during warm-ups, Philip Grubauer designed a special helmet for the occasion that has been auctioned off to the One Roof Foundation, fans received a Hockey Fights Cancer beanie, Seattle Thunderbirds anthem singer and throat cancer survivor Paul Klein sang the Star Spangled Banner, and some of the players even showed up to the arena dressed for the occasion. Not to turn this into Sara Civian’s style power rankings, but I need to appreciate a good suit when I actually see one in this league.
Also, dressing well correlates to scoring goals — well, at least for this night it did. Jared McCann scored the first goal of the night with a tip-in off a Will Borgen point shot, and to my eyes, it appears as if McCann wasn’t even looking at the net as the puck hit his stick. That takes some swagger, and that’s the power of a good pre-game suit.
canner time > any other time pic.twitter.com/uMlNVXBrvF— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) November 18, 2022
Unfortunately, penalties eventually came back to bite the Kraken again. Brandon Tanev took a hooking penalty while defending a play against Barclay Goodrow, and the Rangers easily found a way to capitalize. Mika Zibanejad’s goal was a clean shot on a wide-open net, but it was certainly not because Martin Jones was sleeping. Vincent Trocheck and Chris Kreider did a good job of directing play to the left of Jones so when they sent the puck straight across to Zibanejad on the right side, Jones didn’t have enough time to get into position to stop the shot.
From there, the second period became a goaltending battle. It shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore that Jones played lights-out in net. No, his 2021-2022 campaign with Philadelphia wasn’t great, but if you were like me and also watched the Flyers last year, you’d see that the team was such a dumpster fire on all fronts that no good goaltending could even begin to blossom. A change of scenery has helped Jones immensely, and so has picking up a starting goaltending role in light of Grubauer’s injury.
What’s extremely unsurprising was the goaltending at the other end of the ice. Igor Shesterkin didn’t win the 2022 Vezina Trophy on a fluke, after all. Even though his goaltending stats at the moment aren’t leading the pack, he still plays a huge role in the Rangers’ early season success. During the second period alone Shesterkin faced 16 shots on goal and stopped them all.
Shesterkin isn’t infallible, though. With enough traffic in front, a good screen was all that Justin Schultz needed to score from the blueline. Honorary assists truly needed to go to the cluster of Rangers players that were helping to block Shesterkin’s sightline.
PHEWWWW— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) November 18, 2022
what a shot, schultzy pic.twitter.com/vSFKTBYYd9
In a moment of déjà vu, the Kraken found themselves on the penalty kill in the dying minutes of the game, and Trocheck scored the equalizing goal for the Rangers. The Kraken aren’t allowed to do anything normally, so of course they’d find a way to let history repeat itself.
TROCHECK WITH THE EQUALIZER. pic.twitter.com/g6gXZF9Rt6— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 18, 2022
Going into overtime, the Kraken were determined to rewrite the script. They kept entering the attacking zone with pressure. Some plays failed, and sometimes the team had to retreat and regroup in the neutral zone, but they kept pushing forward. Their effort was rewarded as Jordan Eberle shot the puck, it rebounded off of Shesterkin, and Schultz swooped in to score the overtime winner for his second goal of the night.
WINNER, WINNER, SCHULTZY DINNER!!! pic.twitter.com/3Q9k8Dqavc— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) November 18, 2022
Once again, the Seattle Kraken are setting out on a mission to prove that the team from last season was nothing more than the growing pains that occur when you’re a brand new expansion team. Being able to rebound from a heartbreaking loss where everything was going right up until it suddenly wasn’t is a huge challenge for a team. Plus, the New York Rangers aren’t the easiest of opponents, especially with their goaltending and their primary power play unit.
Yet, the Kraken found a way to overcome both the good goaltending and the the power play goals scored against them. This was a statement win for the team.
However, the Kraken still need to tighten it up when it comes to discipline. No team will ever go unpenalized, because hockey is such a fast-paced, hard-hitting game. The Tanev penalty was a prime example of how easily a defensive play can be over-extended to where it breaks the rule book. Yet, when both goals scored against were with a player in the box, one of two things needs to happen: taking less penalties, or strengthening the penalty kill. It might be easier in the short term to focus on taking less penalties.