Seattle Kraken, St. Louis Blues

Not A Good Night For The Kraken’s 2nd Pair, Or Special Teams

Kraken Responsibilities

The Kraken’s 2nd D-pair of Jamie Oleksiak and Will Borgen played a big part in Saturday’s loss, for mostly the wrong reasons.

‘–it happens’.

Oleksiak was noticeably upset with himself following St. Louis’s tying goal, the 3-3 marker at 1:27 of the 3rd period.

The ‘Big Rig’ turned the puck over in the neutral zone with a failed clear, lost the puck on the ensuing St. Louis forecheck behind the net, and was caught there while Borgen and his other teammates puck watched as Pavel Buchnevich scored.

Screen Shot 2024 01 27 at 9.45.12 AM
Five Kraken ‘puck watch’ down low as Pavel Buchnevich sets up alone in front.

As to not exclusively single them out … Jaden Schwartz was also one of the on-ice spectators for this goal, as he was for Buchnevich’s overtime game winner, when he allowed the Russian winger to sneak back-door unchecked to win the game. Then again, Buchnevich wasn’t his sole responsibility.

At the other end, Schwartz twice had chances on the doorstep to extend the Seattle lead or re-establish it, and fell short.

“We’d like to have capitalized on one or two opportunities that we had,” Hakstol said, “that could maybe change the game when it’s a one or two goal game,

Sort Of Special

The St. Louis power play, although clicking just 14.2% of the time for the season, had found some success and gained some confidence recently and went two-for-two against the Kraken. The second PP goal came after Borgen went off for tripping Buchnevich at 13:17 of the 2nd period, ultimately the turning point in the game.

The Blues scored on Robert Thomas’s tip-in at 15:01 to cut the Seattle lead to 3-2.

“We missed an opportunity at a clear,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol pointed out postgame. “We had an opportunity to clear that puck with about 45-seconds to go in that kill and we weren’t able to make … to get that puck out and get it 200 feet, and they end up with a tip goal.”

Moral Of The Story

In our preview on Friday we stated the obvious:

“Hockey is a game of mistakes and the team that wins is the one that forces them and takes advantage more often.”

The first power play goal for the Blues in the 1st period, the game’s opener, came off what Hakstol described as a blown gap in the neutral zone. The execution for St. Louis was too simple. Brayden Schenn carried the puck into the zone up the left wing boards, centered it, and Oskar Sundqvist scored while going hard to the net.

“When that much speed is generated coming at you, it’s hard to close on those assignments,” Hakstol said, “so for me it starts with that initial gap in the offensive zone and how we initiate the confrontation on that speed.”

The Kraken forced the Blues into multiple turnovers during the game and created handfuls of scoring chances, out-shooting their opponent 36-18. They failed to capitalize with a back-breaker while holding a two-goal lead.

Encouraging is the fact that with all of the healthy bodies back in the line-up, the Kraken’s offensive confidence shined at times. The two Seattle second period goals less than three minutes apart were two of the prettiest and most concise plays you’ll see all season, reminiscent of their efforts during the recent nine-game win streak.

In this case, it wasn’t enough.

Did the Kraken deserve better? Hakstol summed that up succinctly as well.

“Hey, you’ve gotta turn the page and move on.”

The Kraken have two golden opportunities to add points before the NHL All-Star break. They host the 5th worst Columbus Blue Jackets (39 points) on Sunday and then visit the tied-for-league-worst (30) San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Earlier Kraken:

— Kraken NHL Thursday; Team Canada Sexual Assault Suspects Identified

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.