Kraken Maintain Pacific Division Lead with Strong Road Play, Penalty Killing

"Climate Pledge Arena SE" by Sea Cow is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Kraken split their week 1-1, continuing their “sobering up” ritual after an absolutely blistering start to the year.

When the Calgary Flames came to town, it was a playoff atmosphere, with the Flames looking to inch closer to Seattle in the standings with a win. The Kraken weren’t going to roll over without a fight, as proven by John Hayden when he put the team in front 1-0 in the first period. However, the Flames bit back hard and were up 3-1 by the end of that period. Eeli Tolvanen scored once more in the third, but it was too little, too late as the Flames surged to a 5-2 victory at the Climate Pledge Arena. Hayden is almost certainly pleased, with that having been just his second game with the team after not scoring in the NHL since March of 2022.

Tolvanen’s week wasn’t over, as he would score again in a 3-1 victory over the flailing Columbus Blue Jackets, marking a three-game stretch where he scored in all of them. This is quite successful for the 23-year-old wing, who struggled in his five seasons with the Nashville Predators, putting up a career plus-minus of -17 when he was on the floor. In 15 games with Seattle, that number is at +6, meaning that his team has outscored his opponents by six when he’s on the court.

Morgan Geekie and Alex Wennberg also scored in the game, allowing the Kraken to end their five-game homestand with a 3-1-1 record. It was goalie Phillip Grubauer’s first win since Jan. 10, despite it being his second consecutive game allowing just one goal (a Kent Johnson wrist shot in the second period).

Seattle remains atop the Pacific Division at 29-15-5, tied in points with the Las Vegas Golden Knights but with one more win. Their +25 point differential leads the division as well, with the Golden Knights holding a surprising -10 despite their lofty record.

Either way, the Kraken remain better on the road than at home and have won six of their last 10 games, which is largely due to their impressive ability to kill the opponent’s penalties. In their last seven games, the Kraken have allowed 17 power play opportunities, with their opponents coming away with zero total goals. While goalkeeping has been an issue for the team for the most part, both Grubauer and Martin Jones have been steadily creeping towards a .900 save percentage for the season thanks to their recent success.

With the All-Star break underway, it is a pity that Seattle will not get to be represented by rookie sensation Matty Beniers, who is being replaced by Chandler Stevenson due to injury. Still, Kraken fans can choose to take this well-deserved break as a chance to reflect on their 95-percent chance to make the playoffs.