For the first time in what feels like decades, fans flocked in droves to the Lower Queen Anne area of Seattle to watch a sporting event. This time is different though, instead of basketball it was to see a brand new NHL team. With season tickets selling out in just a couple hours, it’s been clear for months that Seattle is excited for the top tier of professional hockey, and tonight proved as much. Starting with an electric introduction video and celebration, Tod Lewieke proudly proclaimed “SEATTLE, WE DID IT” and the number 32 was retired for being the 32nd franchise and 32,000 fans depositing for tickets on the first day. The Kraken faced the Canucks from nearby Vancouver to open the Climate Pledge Arena.
Seattle opened the scoring with a goal by Vince Dunn with 3.2 seconds left in a first period that saw the Kraken leading shots 12-9. In the second period Seattle started off well, with scoring opportunities aplenty but Canucks goalkeeper Thatcher Demko brought his A-game and Bo Horvat tied the game up in the 2nd to make it a 1-1 game. Five minutes into the third, Captain Mark Giordano scored his first goal of the season however Bo Horvat scored his second goal of the game, this time on a power play nearly 13 minutes into the period. Conor Garland scored on a breakaway goal two minutes later and Justin Dowling secured the win with an empty net goal at the 19 minute mark. The three stars of the game went to Bo Horvat and Thatcher Demko of the Canucks, and the Kraken’s Mark Giordano.
Passing. The team started off with great passing and there were opportunities early on with lead passes that offered up one on one opportunities. Grubauer was fantastic tonight, many great saves and controlled the game. The Kraken were also fantastic on the penalty kill, they really never let the Canucks have free shots on net when they were up a man. The fans were great, they were loud early and kept the energy the entire game.
First period woes continued, in a way. The Kraken were losing the possession battle until very late in the period. They were losing 9-6 in shots until very late and they finally woke up late to get the goal. The second period wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great. Giving up a goal was not so fun but it was against the run of play. They scored to lead the game 2-1 and the defense couldn’t hold on. Giving up an open net goal makes the score line look worse than it was but still is never fun to see.
Offense. There weren’t many times in the offensive zone where they controlled the puck and passed it around. This team continues to send it deep and hope something happens. They looked better than any game before but there’s still a lot of work to be done. There were too many bad turnovers leading to breakaway shots, and Grubauer can only do so much. The team also was quite lazy with too many passes. They have to do better to move the puck and control the zone.
This was one of the most fun experiences I’ve watched. The Seattle fans were engaged from the get go and the higher-ups made the right calls on the celebrities they had in the stadium. Seattle sports fans are known to be the most loyal in the country and they proved as much. The cheers for Sue Bird, Gary Payton, and multiple Seahawks players were vibrant and led to an energy boost for the Kraken players. Players will notice this and will want to play in Seattle for such fans knowing they’ll be beloved as long as they play hard for the team.
Though it was an unfortunate loss in the home opener, there are still things to be excited about. The defense will tighten up when they play together more and Grubauer won’t be forced to make so many great saves. The offense showed some great movement and the breakaway lead passes were something to get excited about. There will be games where the Kraken score off counter-attacks and look to be the fastest team in the league. I’ve seen it tonight and other games, they just need that final piece.