Seattle Kraken loss

Seattle Kraken Suffering Through Reality Check

Fans, don’t be mad at the Seattle Kraken. The proper coping mechanism is “acceptance.” To borrow the sentiment of NFL coaching great Bill Parcells, the Kraken are what their record says they are.

Although the NHL isn’t telling you the entire truth about Seattle’s record either. According to the official standings the Kraken have an 8-9-5 record after Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

By hockey math the Kraken are merely one game under .500. That is accurate in the sense that the team has earned 21 points out of a possible 44 after 22 games.

Not so fast. Via overtimes and shootouts the NHL has decreed that every game shall have a winner and a loser. In reality, the Kraken have won eight times and lost 14 times. This is the most accurate reflection of who the are.

These Aren’t Your 2022-23 Kraken

So, why not be mad? Why accept losing and occasionally listless hockey? After all, this is a Kraken team which surprised the league last season: 46 wins, 100 points, a playoff upset over Colorado, taking Dallas to seven games, a Jack Adams finalist in coach Dave Hakstol, and a Calder Trophy winner in rookie Matty Beniers.

The reason fans should accept 8-and-14, even if the players and coaching staff never should, is because with 25% of the season complete, that’s who the Kraken are.

Maybe that’s even who they were last year – only it was masked by magical, team-wide over-achievement.

Seattle Goal-Scoring MIA

For example, the Kraken scored 289 goals last season, 6th best in the NHL at 3.52 per game. Experts said their shooting percentage was abnormally high and unsustainable. So it seems. This year, they’re averaging 2.77 goals per game, ranked 28th.

Clearly, five combined goals from your first and second-line centers, Beniers and Alex Wennberg, is unacceptable. Defensemen contributed 44 goals last season; this year, they’re on pace for 28.

Goaltending hasn’t compensated for the offensive struggles. None of the blame goes to back-up Joey Daccord, who’s still learning the league and how to be an NHL netminder. He’s shown flashes of aggressive play and stickhandling that has made him a crowd favorite.  

Meanwhile, Philipp Grubauer, when healthy, has not replicated his playoff form; he has replicated his regular season form: .885 save percentage, 3.36 goals-against average. Grubauer’s goals saved above average –  “Goals prevented vs. the league average,” according to Hockey Reference – is -5.4.

The Kraken last season were the NHL’s unwelcome guest. Only four teams recorded more road victories than Seattle’s 26. This season, they’ve won four of 11 games away from home.

The head-scratcher is that the Kraken have actually improved in a couple of areas of weakness. The power play is clicking at 23.5% (8th), vs. last year’s 19.8% (21st). They’re winning 50% of faceoffs, vs. 45.3%.

(The penalty kill, a plus early in the season, has regressed to last year’s “meh” – 76.7% last year, 73.9% this year.)

Don’t Expect The Unexpected

That’s the “what” of the Kraken performance. Let’s get down to “why” it’s to be expected.

The record, 8-14, or 8-9-5 if you prefer, is about where a third-year franchise should expect to be, Vegas Golden Knights be damned. The veterans are largely playing to their potential, but there’s a reason many of them were considered expendable.  

The prospect pipeline, the way Seattle will become a legitimate Stanley Cup threat, looks promising. However, Shane Wright, Ryker Evans, Ryan Winterton, Eduard Sale, Carson Rehkopf and Jagger Firkus aren’t done baking yet.

One last thing. The winning-by-committee, never-take-a-night-off approach, was key to last year’s over-achievement. There have been games this season, notably a 4-1 home loss to the Rangers, where it seemed the compete wasn’t there.

When a team doesn’t have the top-end talent of its opponents – which, again, is to be expected of a 3rd-year expansion team, success can only come from consistently outworking the other guys. That hasn’t always been the case for the 2023-24 Kraken – and is the one thing they are capable of correcting right away.  


— Canucks Take Care Of Business In Seattle, 5-1

— Chance For Kraken’s Daccord To Grab Reins In Goal