Tuesday, December 7

Kraken ‘not happy’ entering home opening, but ready to build chemistry as Climate Pledge Arena tenure begins

NEWARK, NJ – Seattle Krak will open its new arena, Climate Pledge Arena, on Saturday night. This is expected to be a spectacular opening, reminder: Jerry Bruckheimer is one of the owners, as the NHL officially arrives in the Pacific Northwest.

But before things get Krak’ing (just a few more, I promise), Kraken kicked off its inaugural season with a five-game road trip that saw some things go through the Kraks. While the team scored its first franchise goal, via Ryan Donato, and recorded its first franchise win, 4-3 over the Predators, the start of the season was not all that Krak hoped for. With a 4-2 loss to the Devils on Tuesday, Seattle went home 1-3-1.

“We are getting to know each other and have made great strides throughout training camp. [and] on this nine-day road trip. There are a lot of positives here even though we left with a record that we are not happy with, “said coach Dave Hakstol after the game.

PLUS: Watch Kraken’s first home game on ESPN +

It’s not easy being the new kids on the block. The team is a mix of 18 skaters and two goalkeepers who, until training camp in late September, hadn’t spent much time together. Players like captain Mark Giordano (Flames), defender Vince Dunn (Blues) and forward Jordan Eberle (Islanders) entered the expansion draft. Standouts Jaden Schwartz (Blues) and Philipp Grubauer (Avalanche) signed up through free agency.

The lack of chemistry was evident in New Jersey. On the first goal, no one covered the point when Adam Larsson made a pinch that led to a 2v1 and Dawson Mercer’s first NHL goal. In the second, Jordan Eberle failed to lift his defense, Damon Severson, crashing from the spot. Is it possible that some of the mistakes and missed assignments were due to fatigue following a 6-1 beating by the Flyers on Monday night and the Devils contest was the last game of the road trip? Sure. But, in general, things have not gone very well.

Here’s how the Kraken stacks up in five games:

  • Passed 19-11 including 8-2 in the opening frame
  • Overcome 16-7 in 5v5, by Natural stats trick
  • He averaged just 26.0 shot attempts per game, last in the NHL

“I don’t think we’re as far off as we think. I think we’re just giving up little in-game reads. Sometimes we’re giving up opportunities that we can’t give up and we know that as players. But you can see the guys are working hard.” said Captain Mark Giordano, sitting in a locker room at the Prudential Center.

Yes, the Kraken has high-danger opportunities and opportunities right out the door. Eberle was on the side of the net and had something for sure that it just didn’t bounce. However, the team is struggling to generate shots as evidenced by the worst shots per game in the league.

“We’re kind of guilty that guys worry too much when you start squeezing and thinking too much because you don’t want to be the guy to make the mistake,” said Giordano, who came to Seattle after 17 years with the team. Flames and is now the first guy to wear the “C” in Kraken history.

MORE: Exploring Trade Rumors, Surgery Options for Jack Eichel and the Sabers

One positive that should turn things around for Hakstol’s squad is the return of Yanni Gourde. The back-to-back Stanley Cup champion with the Lightning was finally inserted into the lineup against the Devils after shoulder surgery in the offseason. His comeback already paid dividends when he received the secondary assist on Jared McCann’s third-period power goal that made it a one-goal game.

“It’s a new team, it’s a new whole, but I’m up for the challenge. We’re going to build on that game and see where it takes us,” Gourde said after the game. “We have a good group of guys and we have confidence in our group.

“It is still very early in the season and we are going to build chemistry and we are going to find our identity and once we do, we will be a tough team.

After running out of the Garden State, the Kraken was free on Wednesday and had some practice time before Saturday’s home opener. While Giordano said there are “obviously no excuses”, he, like several players and Hakstol, mentioned that the lack of practice time to start the season has hurt this team.

Now that the Climate Pledge Arena is ready to open and the team is comfortable in their new digs, they can begin putting the pieces in place. One thing to keep in mind is not to overreact to the first five games. After all, not every team, much less an expansion club, is off to a good start. Unless you’re the NHL’s 31st franchise: Vegas began its inaugural season 8-1 and ended it with the Stanley Cup final.

Most spend time in depression to start: For example, the Blue Jackets were 1-8-1 in 2000-01 and the Panthers’ record to start was 2-4-3 in 1993-94. And, yeah, things change pretty fast in this league.

Now is the time for Seattle to get Kraken.


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