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Kraken vs Islanders PREVIEW: Stoppable Force Meets Movable Object

Feb 22, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (24) and New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) fight for the puck during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts:

  • The Time: 7 pm PST
  • The Place: Climate Pledge Arena
  • Place to Watch: ROOT-Sports Northwest, ESPN+/SportsNet+ out of market
  • Place to Listen: KJR 93.3-FM
  • An Opposing ViewpointLighthouse Hockey, Belmont Skates

Know Your Enemy

For the Seattle Kraken, taking the ice against the New York Islanders tonight will feel something like looking in the mirror. Neither team has found consistency in the scoring department, but have exhibited flashes of excellency on defense. Both enter tonight’s game on the second half of a back-to-back after a 4-3 loss in overtime, extending their losing streaks. High-stakes for both sides elevate this game to a must-win all around.

If they are to succeed, this fearful symmetry will force Seattle to reckon with how they enforce hinder themselves in their own game.

New York produces on the attack by shooting excessively from the perimeter, a strategy which, naturally, hasn’t panned out for them well— they’ve controlled only 50.15% of the total shot quality this season (15th) and are scoring at a rate of 1.93 goals per game (30th), for ownership of only 47.83% of the total goals scored (21st). Seattle ranks 16th, 31st, and 28th in these categories, respectively.

Notably, the Isles have a fair net-front presence, and their defensemen enjoy pulling into the attack, giving their point shots some bite. Top defenseman Noah Dobson leads the team in points (12) and ranks third in shot attempts (81), and will be a skater the Kraken need to make a conscious effort to disarm. Look for the Kraken to force rush chances against if they can catch the opposing defensemen overcommitting to the attack and out of position on defense.

No outrageous advantages are present between these two until stumbling upon goaltending numbers. New York has recorded a .936 SV% (5th) between their tandem of incumbent Vezina finalist Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, who’s already posted two shutouts this season.

Game Preview

Given Sorokin started for the Isles yesterday in his second straight game, one can assume Varlamov will take the crease. Should the Kraken find themselves fiending to exploit some vulnerabilities, they should pursue net-front chances to Varlamov’s left— according to NHL Edge, that seems to be a weak spot for him. And, New York’s defense makes it easy for opposing teams to have that kind of access, allowing the second-most shots against per game in the league (35) from locations inflammatory towards their goaltenders’ weaknesses.

New York Islanders’ heatmap depicting location and frequency of shots allowed (HockeyViz), Semyon Varlamov SV% by region (

In last night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, New York also allowed three power play goals against. Exploiting their penalty kill could be Seattle’s loophole around a stagnant offense and a fearsome opposing goaltender.