Back to work: Kraken tweaks and the push for more consistency


From the depths of the subterranean ice surface of Climate Pledge Arena, the Seattle Kraken, rejuvenated from a day off of practice on Sunday following a near breakneck pace, landmark home opener on Saturday night, returned to their new home ice for the first time with one day of “class in session.”

Coming up Tuesday night, their next shot at their first win in Seattle: the Montreal Canadiens. Feel free to admire the connections, further amplifying the intrigue: the Canadiens have played in Seattle before – granted, it was 102 years ago. The Stanley Cup, during that era, was awarded from the winner of the National Hockey Association (further developing into the NHL) and the winner of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.

During the 1919 series, a rematch of the Seattle Metropolitans championship run in 1917, there was no Stanley Cup awarded. The series was cancelled after Game 5, when all but three Canadiens fell ill to the Great Influenza epidemic which tragically claimed the life of defenseman Joe Hall, four days later.

For the only time in hockey history, no Stanley Cup was awarded, after the series began.

Tomorrow night will be the first time since that series, Seattle and Montreal meet in hockey context. Over a century later: Seattle has their own NHL team, they’re back to compete for the Stanley Cup, while Montreal (an obvious head start above any other) has won 24 of them, though fell short last season by three wins in their attempt at a first cup title since Patrick Roy led the way in 1993.

The Kraken continued to break in their new ice surface, learn new work habits in a “new office,” and fine tune necessary tenets such as center ice “small area” and breakout drills, covering approximately one hour with small tune-ups in the forward group expected (more below with head coach Dave Hakstol).

Vancouver Canucks v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 23: Thatcher Demko #35 of the Vancouver Canucks tends net against Jordan Eberle #7 of the Seattle Kraken in the first period during the Kraken's inaugural home opening game on October 23, 2021 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Kraken at practice, Monday, 10/25:
Schwartz-Gourde-Jarnkrok
Donskoi-Wennberg-Eberle
Tanev-McCann-Appleton
Bastian-Sheahan-Donato
Geekie

Giordano-Oleksiak
Lauzon-Larsson
Fleury-Dunn
Soucy-Borgen

Grubauer
Daccord

Notes:
-Though our last check-up with Chris Driedger signaled “improvement” from head coach Dave Hakstol, he was not present on ice today, maintaining both Philipp Grubauer and Joey Daccord as the tandem. Driedger, with no official timetable to return, is eligible to come off injured reserve as early as tomorrow.

-Yanni Gourde and Calle Janrkrok, a pair of veterans missing all but three combined games due to either rehabilitation or COVID-19 protocol, remained together with Jaden Schwartz. As it takes awhile for new players (if you want to call Gourde and Jarnkrok that) to integrate with new systems, their mission with getting up to speed projects more experience and production in the Kraken lineup.

-Jared McCann moved back to center after spending Saturday on the left wing, now serving as the pivot for Brandon Tanev and Mason Appleton.

-Joonas Donskoi began his new venture, playing the “off wing” (a right handed shot at the left wing, affecting puck control and shooting options) on the left wide with Alex Wennberg and Jordan Eberle – the latter still in search of his first goal, six games in with the Kraken. Based on the comments below, there’s no sign of panic.

-Small adjustments on the defensive pairs: Vince Dunn, formerly with Carson Soucy, moved over to Haydn Fleury’s pair while Soucy was matched up with Will Borgen.

FROM THE PODIUM:

Head coach Dave Hakstol, on the impact of getting Yanni Gourde and Calle Jankrok back into a routine with the team’s development:
“Well, they bring so much energy to start with because every single shift, they bring pace and quickness and tenacity on the puck. They also are both very hungry defensively, so you see good structure and good production on the defensive side as well. With those two just coming back into the lineup, they haven't had a whole lot of time with their line mates. So with the offensive side, you would assume that that will grow over time as well. Yanni Gourde was involved in eight to ten scoring chances the other night, so that's a pretty good place to start. (Jarnkrok) was a part of several of those.”

Hakstol on where he wants to see progress, coming up next:
“There are a few different things. I believe in this building, we have to start a little quicker. Our first period last (Saturday) I thought was okay, but it was pretty even first period. I thought we tilted the ice in the second period. So, that’s one area especially on home ice in this building that can be more of a focus for us. The other night we also lost the special teams battle. Now if you really break it down, our power play set up our first goal, but we had a great power play, and set up. The momentum that we ended up with, I think (we were) holding the zone after that for another close to another minute. So a lot of credit goes to the power play there, but statistically we know we lost the specialty team battle.”

Hakstol on where he wants to see more consistency, with regards to each line:
Well everybody's line will look a little bit different based on personnel. But the way we want to play is consistent throughout the lineup. So now we're going to tweak things again in terms of our forward groups. That is what we will want to try to push us more towards: that consistency. One of the areas you've said we've gotten better: without the puck. We really liked the way we tracked, got the puck back the other night. You know, you're talking about forward groups and everybody doing it the same way. We need to spend a little more time in the offensive zone. With our team, as we learn about our team, and what are personnel’s strengths are, there's different ways to go about that. But that's one of the things we talked about a little bit today is just different ways that we can come up with more pucks that allow us to spend more time in the offensive zone, which, you know, which will lead to good things for our team.”

Jordan Eberle if he feels pressure from trying to produce:
“Yeah, I mean, I felt pressure from game one. But that pressure is good. You want to be that guy that teams look to when you need to put a goal in. So it hasn't come yet, and it's early in the season, and you get off to a slow start. But the positive is that you're creating lots, and the bounces have come. A smart man once told me in this league that things always equal a lot of nights. You get a ton of chances, you don't score, and sometimes you get one, you get two. So, it's just how it works for whatever reason, it's just how it's always been. But the positive is you just got to maintain and not try and switch things, and keep going. That's a secret.”

Eberle on who was the “smart man” who shared that philosophy:
(Laughs) “That’s a secret.”

Jaden Schwartz on the impact of integrating Gourde and Jarnkrok back into the lineup:
“I think our depth is really good and we have some guys that (were out) with injuries and COVID. When you get new guy, it brings new energy and gives you more depth. Their excitement kind of wears off on other guys, so it's nice getting the full group back as much as we can. We're obviously still missing part of our team, but it's always nice getting new faces in, being able to build that chemistry, and trying to get the lines and everything situated a little bit more.”


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