The Seattle Kraken need to get to their act together, or at least get it headed in the right direction against the New York Islanders on New Year’s Day at Climate Pledge Arena. After that match, the club embarks on a season long seven game road trip.
The Kraken slid to 5th in the Pacific Division with its 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night and now sits just five points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks for 6th. The fact that the Kraken still hold games in hand on the entire division will gradually become a moot point if the team keeps slip sliding away.
It’s time to switch up this line-up that through complacency or whatever, has seen some dramatic underachievement as of late.
Alexander Wennberg and his linemates are a prime example. The 28-year-old lefty center is still receiving prime ice time despite lacking presence and points. He has one goal and two assists over the last 12 games. His linemate Andre Burakovsky has one goal and two assists over the last eleven games while Jaden Schwartz has one goal and two assists in his last 13.
That line could definitely use some jam. Having three of your top six relatively invisible ain’t gonna work.
Is it time to sit someone out?
Kraken Head Coach Dave Hakstol told us Saturday morning that he’s taking a pragmatic approach to changes. Certain players saw ice time limited against the Oilers and he indicated more dramatic alterations are always possible. The question is; what is the coach’s pain threshold?
“The first thing for me is trust in this group,” Hakstol said. “So we start there, right, we start with that trust, guys have earned that, guys have built that. You tack onto that leadership. That’s that’s pushing the right way and commanding the right things in the dressing room. And then you know at the end of the day, yeah, there’s different ways to get messages across.
“And if guys need to come out of the lineup, they come out of the lineup. If they need to sit and miss shifts, they sit and miss shifts. But first and foremost, the strength of our group has been that the trust that guys have built in, that they’re going to do the right things, but at the end of the day, if things aren’t going right, the next guy has to go out there.”
We harp on special teams because as the season wears on, and we’ve said it before, the five-on-five opportunities don’t get any easier. Power play, penalty kill, and consistently strong goaltending take on a greater significance.
Unfortunately, the Kraken special teams are headed in the wrong direction as well.
The early power play goal for the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night essentially marked an early end to the hockey game. Edmonton ripped home three goals in a span of a minute and eleven seconds.
The 2-for-2 power play night for Edmonton dropped the Kraken’s penalty kill number to 67.9 percent. League ranking doesn’t matter, it’s 31st out of 32 teams by the way, it’s simple abysmal.
The power play has slid to 22nd in the NHL at just better than 20%. It’s presently in a bad streak that has seen just two goals on the man advantage in the entire month of December and one of them came on a five-minute perpetual power play in Florida on December 11th. The other came against the Washington Capitals on December 1st.
They went 2-for-30 in the month.
Happy New Year!
Just how happy depends on how the Kraken perform on Sunday. The start of 2023 turns out to be a critical juncture.
((And Happy and prosperous New Year to all of you!))