An 11:00 a.m. practice awaited the Seattle Kraken on Sunday at Kraken Community Iceplex, more than 12 hours removed from their fourth consecutive defeat with captain Mark Giordano expressing “frustration” after the Minnesota Wild skated away, 4-2 to move the Kraken into a three-day period of practice reps, answers, and rest before the Chicago Blackhawks arrive on Wednesday.
“Not a whole lot of talk today,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “We’re trying to use these days and work on little things to get better. That has to be our attitude, our approach, and our mentality coming into the 40 minute work day today.”
The Kraken mission to rebound from a 4-10-1 start to the expansion season brought Hakstol to channel frustration into the context of compartmentalizing.
“You have to put those things aside and good pros do that,” said Hakstol. “And I thought a lot of our guys were able to do that today. The frustration can be a pretty heavy weight. We've gone through a stretch where we played a lot of good hockey and didn't come away with anything to show for it.”
“You have to find a way to work above it and push it aside in order to go out, do the job, and do your work.”
Fighting through a battle with Minnesota that opened the door only for three shots on net in the first period, and took until the 9:19 mark in the third period to find the back against goaltender Cam Talbot, the Kraken outshot the Wild 30-22 and according to NaturalStatTrick.com earned the upper hand in high-danger scoring chances, 10-6 (including a 3-0 edge in the final period).
What separated them: a Rem Pitlick natural hat trick, including two goals in the second period that broke open a 1-0 game off two breakaways.
“It’s frustrating,” said forward Marcus Johansson. “There’s been times we haven’t played great, but I feel most of the time I feel we’ve played well. But we’re not getting the breaks. Every little mistake we make costs us a lot, and we’re fighting uphill all the time.”
“We’ve got to find ways to win games and eliminate those mistakes that cost us.”
MARCUS JOHANSSON ON THE BOARD
Johansson, with a pair of 20+ goal seasons on his NHL resume while trying to regain footing from previous injuries including a broken arm in May, delivered his first goal with the Kraken on a backdoor play initiated by an Alex Wennberg pass from the right circle, then helped set up Wennberg’s missile from the right circle with 1:02 left in regulation.
With three points in his first four games, Johansson is past an 11-game stretch he missed with a lower body ailment, rebounding as a key component on the last two power play goals the Kraken have scored: an assist for a 1-0 lead in Vegas in his return Nov. 9, and last night’s five-on-four goal in the third period where he was stationed at the left post.
“We’re moving the puck well and most of it, we’re winning pucks back and creating more o-zone time,” said Johansson. “A lot of times, that’s when the goals come. We have to keep building off it."
SUNDAY: NO GOURDE ON ICE
Forward Yanni Gourde was missing from practice on Sunday, with Hakstol confirming a maintenance day for the Kraken alternate captain, who comes off back-to-back games without a point for the first time this season.
Playing last night against Minnesota primarily at even strength situations with Calle Jarnkrok and Joonas Donskoi, Gourde has seven points (3g-4a) in 11 games with the Kraken while surviving a scare on a Nov. 9 loss at Vegas when he took a point shot off his knee and did not return for the remainder of the third period. Gourde returned to play for full game action with 17:17 of shift time on a Nov. 11 loss at Anaheim, and 18:44 last night against Minnesota.
“Coming off everything he’s been through, he’s just needed a day,” Hakstol said
Gourde has also operated as the Kraken’s top face-off weapon, winning 55.6% of his face-offs and is second on the club for face-offs won (80), while according to NaturalStatTrick.com is seventh in high danger scoring chances (8) despite missing the first four games of the season as his final recovery period from off-season shoulder surgery.
WILL BORGEN, BIDDING FOR TIME
Will Borgen, who made the Kraken out of training camp after stints of two seasons on the Buffalo Sabres blueline, is waiting his turn as the last remaining player on the current Kraken roster yet to appear in a game this season after forward Colin Blackwell, fully recovered from injury, recorded a shot on net and four hits in 9:24 of ice time last night.
Borgen, with 140 career games at the AHL level with the Rochester Americans, brings a large frame at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, and a right handed shot that complements a rugged and physical on-ice reputation, but limited in experience with an injury on last season’s register after suffering a broken forearm, blocking a shot against New Jersey on Feb. 20.
Where the St. Cloud State product is suited to play depends on the internal dialogue of Hakstol and his staff, on Sunday pairing him on the right side with puck-moving Vince Dunn.
When Borgen gets in, is an inconclusive matter at the present moment.
“There’s always a possibility,” said Hakstol. “The discussion on our entire group of eight, we have that discussion every day, and we look at the different combinations that are possible.”
The Kraken have a scheduled day off for Monday … the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced Alex Goligoski of the Wild was fined $5,000, maximum allowed under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, for a high sticking incident on Jordan Eberle that went unpenalized … Eberle finished the game with an assist in 20:55 of ice time, extending his point streak to five consecutive games.
KRAKEN PRACTICE: LINE COMBOS AND DEFENSIVE PAIRS