Seattle Kraken, Dave Hakstol

The Kraken On The Brink Of A Slippery Slope

Time is of the essence when you have a record of 5-8-and-3 in the middle of November. The Kraken need to right the ship and at least get as close to .500 as possible prior to American Thanksgiving.

I make the national distinction because there’s also Thanksgiving in Canada in early October, and it’s a Canadian hockey executive who’s credited with pushing a certain calendar concept. That would be Oilers GM and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland, who articulated a while back that if you’re out of the playoffs on the American holiday weekend in late November, there’s a 90-percent chance that’s where you’ll be come the end of the regular season.

For the most part he’s right. There’s usually one, maybe two teams in each conference that are out in November, but eventually find their way into the postseason come April. The rest remain on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

The Kraken are on the brink of sliding down a slippery slope, with games coming up this week against the suddenly energetic Edmonton Oilers, the usually stingy New York Islanders and the red hot Vancouver Canucks. (Includes must see podcast link)

Yes, three games in four nights, Wednesday and Saturday on the road with Thursday’s tilt against the Isles sandwiched in at Climate Pledge Arena.

By the way, Holland is in the final year of his contract in Oil-land and there’s legitimate speculation this might be his last. What might save him? His club appears poised to make a little run under brand new head coach Kris Knoblauch, who just happens to have been superstar Connor McDavid’s head coach in juniors.

Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft was fired after his club beat the Kraken 4-1 on Saturday night.

Kraken Production Gap

The Kraken are 4th worst in the NHL in offensive production, generating just 2.5 goals-per-game. That’s just ahead of the Islanders at 2.36. That hopefully doesn’t make for a snoozer on Thursday night.

For the record, the Canucks are tops in the NHL at the moment, scoring 4.4 goals per game.

Meanwhile, Seattle sits near the bottom of the list regarding defensive efficiency as well, giving up 3.50 goals per game, 8th worst. The Islanders are looser than usual, hanging in the middle of the pack at 3.18.

Since the calendar turned to November the Kraken have given up 27 goals over six matches.

What’s the non-mathematical solution? Short term the club needs some big save / big moment goaltending and it needs to find some consistency on the penalty kill. Not only are successful kills important in and of themselves, they tend to be momentum boosters, especially in close hockey games.

Staying out of the box in the first place is also never a bad idea. The Kraken have the 11th highest penalty minute total in the NHL.

And yes, of course, the Kraken need to find more scoring.

Big picture, long range, macro-scale answers? Aside from the eternally important topic of solid netminding, the Kraken are two to three high-end forwards away from being a serious Stanley Cup contender.


Oddly enough, the Kraken lead the NHL in scoring the first goal in hockey games, something they have done eleven times. Although to a lesser extent in an NHL that’s progressively become more wide open, scoring first has traditionally led to much higher odds of victory.

Instead, Seattle has relinquished many of those early leads, at one point coughing up two-goal leads in four consecutive games.

Hockey is a game of mistakes and the Kraken don’t seem to be forcing opponents into making nearly as many as they did last season. They’re also not seeing the depth scoring they possessed in 2022-’23.

A consistently intense, well organized forecheck is a must.

When that high energy identity wanes, it makes for some ugly pucks. Until personnel moves are made, it means line juggling for the coaching staff.

The Kraken don’t have time for the status quo.

Recent Kraken:

— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Hockey Hall of Fame Memories, NHL Coach Fired

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 months ago

Okay, I want to talk about that last Avs game. It was strange in that it was not a low-effort game. The guys were playing fast and tough–battling in the corners, throwing hits, diving selflessly in front of shots. Instead, it was a supremely sloppy game, downright irresponsible in the defensive zone. In the defensive zone they were puck-watching. They seemed to almost immediately abandon the scheme. They showed no trust in one another, always jumping into a fracas with the puck carrier and leaving huge swaths of ice in front of Daccord undefended.

I could understand that lack of trust if the guys around whom the defensive lapses were created were the young guys, but they weren’t. It was mostly the veterans making uncharacteristically sloppy plays. Guys who are usually solid defensively like Yanni Gourde, Brandon Tanev, and even Adam Larsson(of all people!) were playing fast and loose in their own zone.

The youngsters made their share of defensive mistakes too, but I expect that from guys in their first couple years in the league. If, for example, Tye Kartye makes an overly aggressive move at the offensive blue line that results in an odd-man rush the other way, live and learn, young man. Still, it doesn’t help the team any, and there are currently a lot of young men taking the ice for the Krakan.

How is a team to mitigate the effects of young players making rookie mistakes? By the veteran core being examples of how it’s done in the big league. That doesn’t look like Vince Dunn losing his cool or Adam Larsson vacating the right circle or whoever was supposed to be following Alex Wennberg into the offensive zone instead completely leaving him out to dry. I noticed Hakstol shuffling the lines to try to get guys who are normally good examples onto lines with the young fellows, but by and large they were not providing that example.

Now, that’s enough of the negativity. Since I have been calling out guys for mistakes, I would like to single out some guys for good, hard work. Eeli Tolvanen was outstanding, I thought, at both ends of the ice. From what I saw, he was forechecking and backchecking effectively in the defensive zone and winning puck battles and unleashing his fearsome shot in the offensive zone. Tolvanen is not usually one of those guys I think of when I think about the team’s veteran leaders, but the young guys could do much worse than to follow his example. I also really liked Shane Wright, although he committed some gaffes (get off the ice when your shift is over, man). He was diving in front of shots like a madman and using his high-revving motor to break up the other team’s plays. He also made some of those sneaky explosive offensive moves with the puck that he was known for in juniors. My god, is that guy going to be good and so much more physical than scouts expected; he already looks like the second-best centerman on the team behind Beniers. That’s another guy who I want to single out for praise. Matty is clearly developing the physical aspect of his game, and his backchecking in particular has noticably improved since last year. He also made his fair share of defensive mistakes, but the guy brought fire to that game. He looked like a real “all there now” pro.