Although he wasn’t asked about it, nor did he comment on his gaff in the final five minutes of the game that led to the Minnesota Wild’s insurance goal that wrapped up the eventual 3-0 win, Kraken winger Oliver Bjorkstrand twice brought up the word confidence in his postgame scrum with the media on Sunday night.
“You can’t lose confidence, you’ve gotta keep going,” he said, “it’s a grind right now, we’ve gotta find a way out of it. Just small stuff.”
The Kraken have failed to score the first goal in every game during a stretch that’s seen them go winless for eight in a row.
“When you lose a lot of games, confidence goes away pretty quickly, so it’s really just on us to find a way to keep it and build on it,” he added.
Confidence is all powerful. The team version is momentum. It’s a collective confidence. It’s where winning streaks come from and in individual cases, scoring runs.
The opposite can be ugly.
That Kraken lack of confidence proved itself in the final five minutes of the game against the Wild and it’s not all on the Danish winger. Just prior to Bjorkstrand inexplicably carrying the puck out of the corner into traffic in front of his own net, leading to a turnover and an easy Minnesota goal, the Kraken collectively looked dead in the water while trying to execute a simple break-out play. That failure resulted in a turnover that led to Bjorkstrand’s decision under pressure.
A lack of scoring throughout the Seattle line-up makes it easier for opponents to match up against the Kraken’s top units. It’s been tough sledding for Matty Beniers and his line because consistent threats from others sources don’t exist.
Last season Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol could roll out four lines and know that each and every one of them had the ability and confidence to score. This season, to shut down the Kraken, opposing teams can focus on Seattle’s limited threats and not have to worry so much about the depth.
Shooting percentage is also a huge factor. Last season’s line-up that included 4th-liners Ryan Donato, Morgan Geekie, and Daniel Sprong, led the National Hockey League in shooting percentage at 5-on-5 with the whopping 5.43% success rate on all the shots they took. This season the club is 30th in the NHL at 3.39%.
“We’re doing a lot of good things, but the puck doesn’t seem to go into the net, so we’ve just gotta keep fighting,” Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson said after Sunday’s loss. “It’s not easy right now, but we’re gonna keep fighting.”
All the coach can do at this point is try to juggle combinations, as he’s done, utilize different personnel from the AHL, the club has run that gamut, and hope that something clicks.
It’s almost impossible to coach a lack of finish.
“Believe in what you’re doing and grind away,” Larsson suggested as a solution. “It’s gonna be a greasy one to turn this around. It’s not gonna be perfect at all. Those could be the turning points.”
The club is losing despite not giving up opposing power play goals. The penalty kill is perfect over the last five home games. You’ll never guess what factors in.
“Once you have a couple of kills in the books you tend to have more confidence and I think that’s what we’re doing,” Larsson said of the PK. “And I think Joe (Daccord) was really good in net on the PK too.”
The Kraken will try to round out that confidence against the Florida Panthers at Climate Pledge Arena on Tuesday night.
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