The aftermath of a Seattle Kraken defeat on Saturday night to the Los Angeles Kings, 4-2 at Crypto.com Arena was laced with the challenge of resistance as strong as Monday morning traffic flow on a southern California freeway.
It wasn’t backup on a downtown interchange. It was the Kings 1-3-1 neutral zone system, an infrastructure the Kraken said lulled them into too much of a spectator role.
“First period, number one, we were staring at five guys too often,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “I mentioned before the game if you were looking at the 1-3-1, then four, five or six times a period, that’s too much.”
After practice on Sunday at the Kings' El Segundo, Calif. practice facility, Hakstol said speed in the second period helped create more scoring chances for the Kraken in helping break the 1-3-1 system, at one point using Joonas Donskoi in what Hakstol said was a “simple breakout play” to slash across the middle and create space with movement.
The second period delivered a sharp U-turn of chances. The Kraken, giving up 71 percent of shot quality at five-on-five situations (according to naturalstattrick.com), lowered the rate against to 54 percent in the second period.
The third period delivered six high danger chances for the Kraken, who also owned the period’s shot quality advantage at 63 percent.
“Much quicker in the second period,” said Hakstol. “Quicker with transition and a couple of lines carried us. (Yanni) Gourde’s line did a good job in establishing momentum. In the first period it felt like (Anze) Kopitar’s line and (Quinton) Byfield’s line setting pace and momentum.”
The Kraken, who didn’t change the lineup at all during Sunday’s practice and are still missing Jaden Schwartz and Haydn Fleury, will have another swipe at the Kings system on Monday in the rematch, looking for two wins on the three-game trip before coming home.
Changes may be coming to the lineup, but Hakstol hinted not in the immediate future.
“We can do a lot of changing, mixing and matching, but at some point, in time we want to give guys a couple games in a row to build chemistry,” said Hakstol, who declined to name a starting goaltender for the rematch until Monday. “We have new faces in the dressing room.”
“It’s about trying to give some symmetry and the ability to build chemistry. Most likely will look similar to yesterday's game.”
BENIERS OFF TO THE FROZEN FOUR
Matty Beniers, eligible to take his next step with the Seattle Kraken as soon as his sophomore season is done with Michigan, expectedly took another step forward to a national title with the Wolverines, advancing to the NCAA Frozen Four on Sunday in a 7-4 victory over Quinnipiac in Allentown’s Regional final.
The game was much closer than the score indicated.
Michigan, up 4-0 and seemingly in cruise control mode, held off a furious rally by Quinnipac and sped away with a pair of empty net goals, after hanging on with a 4-3 lead late in regulation.
Beniers, held off the scoresheet in the game, entered the game with 43 points in 36 games as Michigan’s leading scorer.
The Wolverines, seeking their first national title in 24 years, will face Denver in the Frozen Four Semifinal, Apr. 7 in Boston. The winner will take on the victor of the Minnesota vs. Minnesota State semifinal matchup and compete in the national title game on Apr. 9.