If the Seattle Kraken video department is looking to compile the most eye-popping saves of Philipp Grubauer’s season, they don’t have to look far. The two Game 7’s of Seattle’s 2023 playoff run contain more than sufficient footage.
At his end-of-season media interview at Kraken Community Iceplex on Wednesday, Grubauer took issue with that assessment.
“You could say, two successful (games). I would say only one successful, because we lost the other Game 7.”
Don’t believe him.
True, the Kraken fell just short of reaching the Western Conference Final, falling to the Dallas Stars 2-1 in the deciding game of round-2. But without Grubauer’s miraculous goaltending, the nail-biter at American Airlines Center Monday night would have been one-sided.
A carton of eggs doesn’t have as many Grade-A’s as the Stars in Game 7.
Sublime Save On Seguin
From any number of examples, one stands out. The Stars’ Tyler Seguin knows his way to the net: 326 regular season goals, plus 20 more in the playoffs. In the 2nd period of a scoreless game, Seguin roared down the middle. A textbook toe drag left Kraken defenseman Will Borgen spinning like a top, the same way Tyler has victimized countless defenders.
Seguin’s path to a Dallas lead faced one last obstacle. From close range and unopposed, he sizzled a low dart along the ice. With an economy of motion, Grubauer’s glove with deceptive calm vacuumed up the shot. Had Seattle won, media would have called it a season-saving grab.
In the two most important games in the Kraken’s young history, high-pressure Game 7’s, Grubauer performed magnificently – his finest efforts since signing as a free agent in 2021. In round 1, he faced down his former team and the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
The More He Played, The Better He Played
Had the postseason schedule, requiring Seattle to play 14 games in 29 days, taken a toll on the goalie? Quite the opposite, said Grubauer. Starting all 14 made him stronger – and happier.
“I love it because you play every other day. I personally enjoy the grind,” Grooby said.
What made the regular season less of a grind was a surprisingly potent Seattle offense. But Grubauer said when he returned from an early season injury, the increased run support didn’t alter his mental approach.
“My mindset is not really ‘we could only score one goal. If you’re making a mistake, we could lose the game,’” Grubauer pointed out. “Every game as a goalie, nothing can go by you. I feel I settled in after Christmas.”
That said, Grubauer appreciated the contributions from up and down the lineup.
“Obviously, it’s easier to win certain games if everybody can score. We showed that throughout the whole year, and playoffs, too. You look at our depth, we have four incredible lines. Everybody can score, versus some teams having just three or four (scorers).
“A lot of guys stepped up and scored; our fourth line with Donny and Spronger and Geek (Ryan Donato, Daniel Sprong and Morgan Geekie) did incredible things for how little ice time they got.”
A Summer Of Kraken Refinement
Grubauer said he’ll be working between now and training camp to refine his techniques with Kraken goalie coach Steve Briere, just as he did during the just-completed season.
“You work with him every day, you watch video every day,” Grubauer added. “Small details can make a huge difference. He’s been incredible all year for us. I’m gonna sit down with Stevie (this summer) and talk about a bunch of things, and see what we can change, and how we can step into that level right away next season.”
“That would be a good question for him,” Grubauer said to laughter from the assembled media.
While looking ahead, Grubauer repeated how proud he was of the improvement the Kraken made in Season Two.
“What a turnaround from last year. It’s been incredible to see everything come together, starting in training camp. We laid the foundation, we set the standards for the future. An incredible ride for this group.”