“Boy, we wasted a good performance there [from Martin Jones]. His performance was good enough to get us two points.”– Kraken Coach Dave Hakstol
The Seattle Kraken came cratering back to Earth after their five-game winning streak, dropping two games to the Minnesota Wild and the Winnipeg Jets.
The Wild scored one goal. With under two minutes left in the first period, the puck found forward Mats Zuccarello in the middle of three Kraken skaters, and he still managed to sneak it into the goal. Seattle goalie Martin Jones was otherwise fantastic, nabbing 20 saves, but it wasn’t enough. The Kraken took 28 shots at the Minnesota goal, all saved by Marc-Andrew Fleury who nabbed his 72nd career shutout against a record-setting 28 different teams.
The Jets game was a different story entirely. The Kraken offense was in control of the game, taking an early lead when Jordan Eberle pulled off a 5v3 rebound goal thanks to the initial shot by Burakovsky. The Jets would tie it in the second period and then continue the offensive effort, Jones keeping the Kraken alive with some truly miraculous goalkeeping throughout the period. His efforts were rewarded when Brandon Tanev broke away from the Wild defense and made a slick shot that put the Kraken in front.
Up 2-1 with a minute left, it felt unlosable for the Kraken. Jones had just spared the Kraken from a 6v4 power play goal, but they soon faced another when Carson Soucy lost his temper and punched Pierre-Luc Dubois in the back of the head, giving the Wild 26 seconds of power play. Needless to say, the Wild managed to tie the game and send it to overtime, where they scored again in the first minute to seal the overtime victory.
All things considered, the 0-1-1 week didn’t feel like the Kraken were digging themselves into a hole. On the contrary, they were performing in areas they had struggled with all season. They won more than half of their faceoffs in both games, when they struggled to do that even once in the previous 14 games. They also maintained their excellent ability to kill the penalties. They ended up allowing two power play goals against the Jets, but they stopped their opponents the other nine times in two games. Of course, there’s an issue to be brought up when the Jets had seven power play opportunities in a single game, but that could be an outlier moving forward.
Of course, Jones is playing exceptional hockey right now, and the three goals by Winnipeg shouldn’t skew that statement. Some of the saves he was making felt superhuman at times, while the defense repeatedly allowed shots to get by. Grubauer feels like a distant memory at this point, and it should hopefully remain that way.
At 8-5-3, the Kraken remain in fringe playoff territory. They haven’t shown us enough to believe they are legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup, but at different times they have shown us that they can play each side of the puck really well. It’s up to them to put that together into complete games that could give fans and critics alike more confidence in their play. The Kraken are due to wrap up their six-game home stand with three matches against the New York Rangers (8-6-3), Los Angeles Kings (11-7-1) and San Jose Sharks (6-9-3). It’s a tough schedule, but it’s doable, and tough opponents are exactly who Seattle will want to beat in the playoffs regardless.