Well, you can’t always win them all right? The Seattle Kraken fell for the first time Tuesday night to the Edmonton Oilers 6-0 in their first ever “away” game (their previous “home” game was played in Spokane while the finishing touches are put on Climate Pledge Arena). On the bright side, those white away jerseys sure are growing on me and looked great their first time in action.
In a role reversal from their game against Vancouver on Sunday, Seattle faced an Edmonton Oilers team playing with NHL stars against their lineup featuring young players on the roster bubble. The projected first line of Jared McCann, Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle, as well as de facto captain Mark Giordano, were among those that sat out the first leg of their back to back Alberta road trip in favor of players like, first ever player in franchise history Luke Henman, former Canuck Kole Lind and offensive weapon Vince Dunn on the blueline.
Despite some early power play time (two opportunities in the game’s first ten minutes) for Seattle, it was the stars of Edmonton who got on the board first. Recent benefactor of a eight year, $74 million contract, Darnell Nurse struck gold (oil?) when he let loose a snapshot while entering the Seattle zone that skitted along the ice and under the pads of Kraken goalie Chris Driedger. To his credit, Driedger responded well. Unfortunately for him, the rest of the Kraken didn’t. Already down a man, defenseman Will Borgen took a tripping penalty that gave the Oilers a two-man advantage for thirty seconds. As you can imagine, a team sporting as many first overall picks and Art Ross winners as Edmonton didn’t take long to extend their lead. Jesse Puljujarvi slammed one home after being allowed to sit untouched in front of the net as the three-manned Kraken were overmatched from the start (the goal came nine seconds after Borgen’s penalty). Less than four minutes later, the devilish red light behind Driedger was glowing again. New Oiler Zach Hyman showed off his soft hands tipping one in off an amazing cross-zone pass from, who else, Connor McDavid. From there, the young Kraken squad circled the wagons and let the period end without any further damage, heading to the locker room down three.
Whatever Dave Hakstol told the team during the first intermission, it definitely had a calming effect. While they weren’t able to completely reverse their fortunes, they played a much smarter, controlled game. Kole Lind played well alongside breakout training camp star Morgan Geekie and savvy veteran Marcus Johansson, adding some speed and tenacity to the line that caused problems for the team in orange.
Luke Henman looked the part as he centered the third line, showing flashes of the quick hands that served him well as one of the top scorers in the QMJHL last year.
While both Lind and Henman are longshots to make the team this year, it was nice to see them play well and know that with some seasoning in the AHL, they should be major players this time next year. Vince Dunn looked as advertised from his time in St. Louis. He played a strong two-way game but the skills that shined were those that create offensive opportunities. He had strong puck control with even stronger passes that he used to create a couple breakout plays. He also helped sustain some of the better Seattle pressures by standing tall at the blueline and keeping the puck in the zone.
Despite the good showing from some of the young kids, the second period ended 5-0 after late period goals from Brendan Perlini, who scored on a two-on-one defensive breakdown by the Kraken, and a Connor McDavid power play goal after Jeremy Lauzon was dinged with the rare, “closing hand on the puck” call.
Keeping with the theme of featuring some of Seattle’s younger players, goaltender Joey Daccord saw his first action of the preseason, stepping in for Chris Driedger to start the third period. Unfortunately, the third period also brought more of the same. Brendan Perlini scored his second of the night, rocking a one-timer slapshot from the slot after the Oilers won an in-zone faceoff. This wasn’t the first time the Oilers had success with set plays coming off of a faceoff and it is clearly something the Kraken are going to have to work on as they solidify the roster. Other than that play, one that any goalie would have struggled with, Daccord played a great game. He stood tall and shut things down the rest of the way, making a few highlight reel saves and keeping the Oilers from scoring on their second 5-3 advantage of the night. Which brings me to special teams play (0-4 on the PP, 3-5 on the PK). This was the other area that stood out as needing improvement as I looked for takeaways from a game that had few. To be fair, the Kraken have hardly worked on this in camp and they haven’t even been together for a whole week yet, so these are more “areas to focus on” rather than major problems.
But for now, we look ahead to tomorrow and the Calgary Flames. We’ll see what the Kraken starters have for us after their strong showing against Vancouver and how the team as a whole bounces back from the loss.