Seattle.... Playoff Team?!!
We are 10 days away from Thanksgiving (real Thanksgiving not that fake Canadian one as I am an American who lives in Seattle). Every year the discussion around this time goes to talking about playoff teams; specifically that the teams that are in the mix by Thanksgiving usually will be the same at the end of the season.
Here we are, 10 days away and the Seattle Kraken find themselves 3rd in the Pacific Division with a +7 goal differential and above the likes of Edmonton and Calgary. The questions the rest of the league is now asking is "is this team legit?" I think we are getting really close at saying yes. How is this all happening?
OFFENSE FROM ALL
You won't see any Seattle Kraken players anywhere in the top 50 of goal scorers this season. While dozens of players have put up 7,8,9, 10+ goals this season the highest goal scorers for Seattle thus far are Schwartz, Beniers, and McCann who are all tied with 5 goals. Seattle also is 11th in the entire NHL in goal scoring. Those two facts don't seem to add up but it is because Seattle has multiple goals from almost every player on their roster.
14 players for Seattle have registered at least 2 goals this season... that is more than any other team in the NHL so far this season. The Bruins have 13 players, the Devils have 12 as do the Vegas Golden Knights. No single player is a focus for the opponents on Seattle and if one player is double covered, there is another on the ice who has shown they can put it in the net.
This is all with Oliver Bjorkstrand remaining stone cold in the goal department yet still leading the team by a large margin in the shot column. Once Bjorkstrand finally gets a couple to go his way the Kraken will have an even more potent offense.
If you told Kraken fans in September that Grubauer would get injured early on and Martin Jones was going to be the starter for a month you would probably start looking at the NHL Draft and who is going in the top 3.
That is what has happened in Seattle and yet Martin Jones is providing this team with "good enough" goaltending and even "great goaltending" over this last 5 game stretch. After some rough starts in October where he was putting up .800 and even a couple .700 starts, Jones has rebounded in a big way in November. Here are his starts since Nov 3:
Nov 3 - 33 saves on 33 shots - 1.00SV%
Nov 5 - 37 saves on 39 shots - 0.946SV%
Nov 8 - 25 saves on 26 shots - 0.960SV%
Nov 11 - 21 saves on 22 shots - 0.952SV%
Nov 13 - 30 saves on 33 shots - 0.900SV%
Jones is now 0.909SV% on the season but his last six starters are at a much higher level.
Vince Dunn has finally arrived folks.
After his first few inconsistent seasons in the NHL, Vince Dunn is finally looking like the strong puck moving offensive minded player that the Blues and now the Kraken hoped he would be. He has eliminated a number of the careless mistakes that plagued his game last season and now Hakstol can actually count on him to play big minutes with Adam Larsson who remains one of the best shutdown defenders in the NHL.
The Kraken have outscored the opposition 14-9 with the duo on the ice and also outchance teams with an xGF% of 54.18%.
Things aren't as solid on the second pairing with Oleksiak out and Schultz showing he is more of a third pairing player than a second pairing but they are coming close to breaking even. Larsson and Dunn can handle the big minutes and are doing an excellent job at covering the deficiencies from the rest of the blue line.
The depth and the buy-in from this team is highly impressive right now. The Kraken have a below average PK (22nd) and an fairly good PP (13th) but it is their 5 on 5 scoring that is getting the job done (8th).
Perhaps the other X Factor here is that other teams still are not taking this team seriously and are perhaps looking past them on the schedule. If the Kraken remain in the hunt, more teams are going to start taking notice which will mean the Kraken will face more starters and more engaged opponents. Seeing how Seattle is playing right now that doesn't worry me.