Penalty kill "working in tandems" to turn numbers around

Vancouver Canucks v Seattle Kraken

Photo: Getty Images

Morgan Geekie was out 15 minutes to get in extra work as Dave Hakstol approached the podium. 

Keep in mind, the Seattle Kraken still had a plane to catch to San Jose. 

“If you want to push and play in this league a long time, you have to find your routine,” said Hakstol, speaking to the media as Geekie finished extra solitary reps 40 feet away on the other side of the glass. 

“The players able to stay for 10, 12, 15 years - you see that routine in their game.”

Sweat equity trickled over from a Thursday night defeat to the Boston Bruins, 3-2 in overtime, to Saturday’s morning practice at Kraken Community Iceplex, cumulative with timely saves out of second star Philipp Grubauer but devoid of the winning point. 

The Kraken had to push hard to get to the game to overtime, with no Jared McCann, Jaden Schwartz, and Brandon Tanev. The latter two have been missing since December with injuries – Tanev is done for the season after ACL surgery. McCann, the Kraken leading goal scorer, is on injured reserve. 

But a transformation in the Kraken penalty kill – a relentless approach including an extinguished two-man advantage and wild shorthanded goal by Mark Giordano – set the Kraken off and running with a 1-0 lead against Boston they desperately have been needing. 

Giordano, a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, has two shorthanded goals in the last three games. The common denominator in those goals: hockey sense and leadership. 

“It shows you his readiness, shows you fire and his intelligence,” said Hakstol. “Both of those plays. He put himself in that position coming out of the zone.” 

“They made a bad change. When he saw that bad change happening, he filled that spot. That’s what led to him being able to jump in on the breakaway. He’s ready, prepared, competitive as hell. He’s going to make plays.”  

That brings the Kraken penalty kill, ever since giving up two goals on two chances to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 14, to 12-of-13 over the last five games. 

“We’ve been working on our special teams a lot better,” said forward Joonas Donskoi. “The penalty kill has gotten a lot better. Our skating, we’re pressuring. Same mentality we have to bring at five-on-five: pressure all over the ice and working hard.” 

Hakstol, who said until five to six games ago that the Kraken didn’t “look like a confident penalty kill,” mentioned cohesion, communication, and commitment to an aggressive complexion that dialed up the results. 

The Kraken primarily used a four-man unit of Donskoi, Giordano, Riley Sheahan and Jeremy Lauzon on one unit, and Yanni Gourde, Colin Blackwell, Carson Soucy and Jamie Oleksiak on the other. 

So what’s communication all about? 

“Working in tandems – up front and on back end,” said Hakstol. It pays to have some familiarity with the forward that you’re killing with and (defensive) partner you’re killing with.” 




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