This game could have easily turned into a bout of déjà vu. After all, the Kraken had just played the LA Kings on the road two nights prior, and here the team was doing it all over again. Plus, if the Kings were able to figure out how to beat the Kraken the first time around, then surely they could do it again.
The Kraken, however, were ready to rewrite the script from the opening shift of this game. They showed a type of resiliency and complete game that has been so rare from them this season, and it was definitely one of the highlights of the year to watch.
Is it a revenge game when you’re playing the same team you played last game? I’m going to count it as so. It would certainly explain how the Kraken got the jump 14 seconds into the game with a goal from Alex Wennberg. That’s the kind of start you have when you don’t want to lose to the same team twice in a row. The wraparound attempt from Ryan Donato didn’t go in, but Wennberg was perfectly in position to get the rebound that bounced out. Good things happen when you plant yourself in front of the net.
Kole Lind was called for hooking, and Seattle was given its first real test of the game. The Kraken went into this game with the 29th-ranked penalty kill — 31st when isolating just road games. The Kings aren’t in possession of an amazing power play themselves, but Arthur Kaliyev was able to score on this one to tie the game back up.
The Kraken aren’t the worst at committing penalties — they’re ranked 18th in the league for total penalty minutes and 28th for individual penalties taken. Of course, they could still always work to take less penalties, but the call on Lind was a bit of a weak one to begin with. What really needs work, though, is their special teams in general.
The Kraken were determined to continue their bounce-back efforts, because it was only about 3 minutes later that Adam Larsson scored. It was a pretty typical defensive set up when keeping the puck in the attacking zone, with Vince Dunn passing him the puck from across the blueline, and Larsson’s shot into the mass of bodies in front of the net ended up going in on its own. I note this because often a defenseman isn’t specifically looking to score here. Sometimes it’s just about getting the the puck on net for the forwards to then clean up the rebound on.
Ultimately, this period was almost all Kraken. If they hadn’t been on the penalty kill, maybe it would’ve been full dominance. They had the edge in shots — and in fact, John Forslund pointed out with around 30 seconds left in the period that the Kings hadn’t had a scoring chance since Kaliyev’s goal.
Honestly, the real highlight of this period was that Brandon Tanev finally made his appearance on the broadcast. It was smart of ROOT Sports to do this during an away game, just because there’s hopefully less chance for Kraken fans to miss out on it.
I still harbor this theory that a small part of why this season fully collapsed the way it did was because this team lost a heart and soul player in Tanev. I fully admit that could also just be me putting lots of sentimental value into someone I’ve adored the game of from before he was drafted to the Kraken. However, it’s kind of hard to not look at how they were winning games at a higher frequency prior to his injury. We’ll truly never know the exact difference of what this season would be with a fully-healthy Tanev, and considering the Kraken’s cellar dwelling record, I doubt it would’ve been enough of an impact to make the playoffs, but it feels like it had an impact on this team nonetheless.
For the actual hockey at hand, though, Victor Rask decided to join the party of newcomers scoring for the Kraken. Daniel Sprong had those honors in the last two games, and this was Rask’s night. Considering that trade deadline day was more about acquiring draft picks to build up the team’s future than anything else, to see the new guys they also gained that day providing value to the team is a pleasant surprise.
up to the task is victor rask! pic.twitter.com/x8e09ZbJ2f— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) March 29, 2022
Important to note on this goal is the patience Rask has before shooting the puck. Quite often when launching off a shot from near the faceoff dots like that, it’s more of an instinctual shot as soon as the player receives the puck. Larsson’s goal was kind of like this once he skated over to where he needed to be. However, there’s just that second of a pause where Rask waits for the exact moment for everyone’s positioning to line up just right to take the shot off.
Once again, this was a period where the Kraken were dominating the play. It began to feel like this was truly Seattle’s game to lose as they forced the Kings to play off their game and never gave them a chance to regain their bearings.
If there was any fear that the Kraken were going to lose this game, the team put that worry to bed pretty quickly. Jordan Eberle pickpocketed the puck away from Olli Määttä and took off on a breakaway. He rocketed that shot past Cal Petersen and got the goal.
goodluck catching Ebs on this breakaway! pic.twitter.com/Yyxa5xuMzM— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) March 29, 2022
Only 29 seconds after Eberle’s goal came one from Jared McCann. It was a smart pass from Morgan Geekie to evade the Kings’ defense over to McCann, and his shot was placed top shelf and over Petersen into the net.
yes yes yes yes yes yes— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) March 29, 2022
yes yes yes yes
yes yes yes yes
yes yes yes yes
yes yes yes
yes yes yes yes yes
….he McCann!!! pic.twitter.com/3B6YZASFCO
Then Sprong kept his goal scoring streak alive with a goal that’s absolutely going into the next Weird NHL video compilation. Why? Because the puck bounced off of Jordan Spence’s face and into the net. After all, the Kraken can never have a normal game, so sure. Let’s score off of someone’s face. The new guy is absolutely figuring out the spirit of this team.
This game honestly had the feel of a win by the time the second period was over, but it was great to see a game where the Kraken didn’t take their feet off the gas for a second. Being able to catch this team off guard — especially when they had just lost to them the other night — and use it as a way to keep playing strong, offensive hockey is something the Kraken haven’t shown that often.
It was another one of those games I look at and see as a building block. These are the things the team — and especially those core members that are going to be here into next season — need to look at and internalize. This is how the team improves.
This is also a good launching pad going into the next two games. Sure, the Kraken don’t have playoff hopes to be playing for. You know who does, though? The Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas currently sits in the final wild card spot with 76 points, but right behind them are the Dallas Stars with 75 points and Winnipeg Jets with 73. Vegas is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in its brief history as a franchise.
I don’t know if the players have internalized the constant comparisons to Vegas in the wake of the expansion draft, but I know that many fans have been sick of it. Being tasked with having to live up to another team’s expectations is enough to make anyone resent that team. Sure, it’s better in terms of the draft lottery odds for Seattle to keep losing out, but there’s something about the potential narrative of the Kraken pulling the Golden Knights deeper down the standings that’s a little too good to pass up.
It’ll be the Seattle Kraken at home against the Golden Knights at 7:00 pm PT / 10:00 ET as we see if the team can keep this forward momentum going and play spoiler to a division rival.