Let’s get one thing out of the way: The Seattle Kraken are better than their now 10-15-3 record.
Per SPORTLOGiQ, the Kraken came into Tuesday’s inaugural meeting with the San Jose Sharks as the sixth-best All Situations team in the NHL in Quality Chances Against. They actually surrender the least amount of Inner Slot Shots in the league — and they’re top-10 defending the rush and the cycle.
What’s killed them is their goaltending: Going into the game, their Expected Goals Against was eighth in the NHL at 2.73, but they’ve given up 3.59 Goals a Game.
In some ways, they’re a lot like the San Jose Sharks. Both teams are offensively challenged — Seattle is 30th in the league in Quality Chances, San Jose is 26th. Both teams are solid defensively — the Sharks are fifth-best in Quality Chances Against.
The difference between the clubs has been between the pipes, where James Reimer has provided Vezina-caliber netminding for San Jose, while Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger have supplied sub-.900 save percentages.
Last night, we saw a Kraken squad that finally got the goaltending they deserved, as Dreidger stopped 34 of 35 shots in a 3-1 Seattle victory.
“It’s that margin of error when you don’t score,” San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner acknowledged. “Even in the games against Dallas and some of these games we play, you have to play very, very tight and very detailed hockey and for 60 minutes.”
That margin of error was illustrated by the Slot Shots on Net, which was tied at nine apiece — in other words, there wasn’t any, for either side.
But the Kraken were just a little better than the Sharks last night, as a couple neutral zone gaffes sunk the home team.
Jonah Gadjovich (42) doesn’t get the puck in deep and Carson Soucy (28) seams a stretch pass up the middle to Ryan Donato (9) that breaks San Jose’s neutral zone forecheck.
turbo understood the assignment pic.twitter.com/D6JxWtJVWX
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) December 15, 2021
“We knew that they were going to be a quick transition team,” Boughner said. “They do a good job in the neutral zone.”
Down a goal, Mario Ferraro (38) tries to make a play through Calle Jarnkrok (19) to Alexander Barabanov (94). Jarnkrok intercepts, absorbs a Noah Gregor (73) hit, and distributes to Brandon Tanev (13). Tanev makes a clever area pass, firing it ahead for Morgan Geekie (67) to claim in stride.
Boughner lamented: “The thing that I was probably disappointed the most, they got the 1-0 lead, but we gotta keep it 1-0. We can’t give up the second one.”
But that’s what happens when you play like the San Jose Sharks, right? In other words, get used to this, Sharks fans — slim-to-no margin of error means you’re going to be watching a nightly tightrope.
“It’s a game of mistakes. They’re going to happen,” Brent Burns stressed. “We had a lot of [chances] too. We just didn’t score.”
Burns isn’t wrong: Mere moments before the Tanev back-breaker, he almost took advantage of a Kraken error.
Seattle’s neutral zone forecheck is so focused on Burns (88) ambling up the right side, Jarnkrok loses Gregor speeding behind him.
Gregor beats Driedger here? We’re talking a whole new ballgame.
But it feels like this San Jose Sharks season will be filled with moments like these.
Last night’s loss won’t end up as a one-goal game because because of Jarnkrok’s empty-netter, but it was certainly a one-goal contest in spirit.
For what it’s worth, San Jose’s .667 Winning % (6-2-1) in one-goal games is tied for fifth in the NHL. So the Sharks are surviving the tension so far.
“We enjoy the one-goal games,” Couture said in New York.
Hopefully, the fans are too — this “good field, no hit” (i.e. good defense, no offense) San Jose Sharks squad looks like they’re going to be in a lot of them this season.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.