The Seattle Kraken kicked off November in Calgary against the 5-2-0 Flames, marking the first start this year for Joey Daccord. Having been plagued with goalkeeping troubles for all of last year and the start of this one, perhaps a new face in the mask was what the team needed.
For the first period, that was exactly it. The Kraken played the possession game and controlled the flow, exiting the first period with a 1-0 lead. Of course, the predictable happened, and just two minutes into the third period, the Flames were up 4-2 and looking to run away with it.
And then the magic happened. Daniel Sprong scored on a power play eight minutes into the period. Three minutes later, Yanni Gourde came up with a clutch takeaway and turned that into an immediate 4v5 goal. Just two minutes later, Matty Beniers hit his team-high fifth goal of the year to take the lead in an eventual 5-4 Kraken victory.
After going 0-4 against the Flames in their inaugural season, the Kraken’s first lifetime win against Calgary also puts their record at 5-4-2 on the season, the first time they’ve ever been above .500. Five goals in a game also continues the trend of their offense, as 38 goals remains fourth in the NHL.
Of course, Daccord had quite the game, playing all 60 minutes and coming away with 36 saves on 40 attempts. That number only places him roughly in the middle of the pack, but that is still a great leap above Grubauer and Jones. With even an average goalie, the offense of this team should propel them to fringe playoff contenders, though that’s still a ways away.
Of course, this team is far from perfect, and there’s a reason that expectations were low coming in. Aside from goalkeeping that is middling at best, the Kraken are the worst in the NHL at winning face-offs. They won 39 percent of them versus the Flames, down from their season average of 40.7. Not being able to come away with wins out of time stoppage will always give their opponents an opportunity to go down the ice first. What’s more, they are bottom four in penalty kill percentage, allowing goals on 30 percent of the opponent’s power plays. This has largely been offset by the Kraken’s above-average offense, but the disparity isn’t large enough to turn that into expected long-term success. And of course, first-round rookie Shane Wright still isn’t seeing the ice.
Now on their first two-win streak of the season, the Kraken will spend their next week finishing a three-game road trip at the 5-4-1 Minnesota Wild and the 4-4-2 Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as a home match against the 3-6-1 Nashville Predators. While none of them are particularly tough opponents, every game is a must-win when you’re trying to prove yourself. Fortunately, a comeback win versus a top team should go a long way towards putting respect on the Kraken name. Matty Beniers alone makes this team worth watching as a 20-year-old future superstar.