3 takeaways from the weekend after losses to the Wild, Lightning

Minnesota Wild v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 10: Adam Larsson #6 of the Seattle Kraken watches a loose puck under the skate of Joey Daccord #35 during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Climate Pledge Arena on December 10, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Try as they might to find the exit route, the Seattle Kraken are still in the maze of a winless skid that has reached eight straight games after two losses in back to back games, 4-3 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning and then on Sunday, 3-0 to the Minnesota Wild at Climate Pledge Arena.

The issues as they extend into a six-game homestand, still without a win since Nov. 22, are right under their noses. They aren't healthy. But they are also struggling for offense, shut out for the third time this season after Filip Gustavsson, who couldn't get his save percentage above .900 for the first two months, blanked them on 24 shots on Sunday. They are down Jaden Schwartz, Andre Burakovsky, and even a gradually improving Philipp Grubauer, now demanding the Kraken to dig deeper than they've maybe ever dug before to stay in the playoff race.

Two years ago before Christmas, Brandon Tanev blew out his ACL on a freak crash into the boards, realistically ending their expansion season playoff hopes. More players are on the shelf this time. But this team is different - and proven. They are also five points out of a playoff spot.

"We're trying," said forward Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored twice in last season's game 7 triumph at Colorado.

"We need to be a few more percentages better at each area. I think that can help us. You can't lose confidence."


1. Do the Kraken ride Joey Daccord? Philipp Grubauer is going to be out presumably awhile, going on injured reserve after suffering a lower body injury in Saturday's overtime loss at Tampa Bay where he overextended his blocker side to stop an odd-man rush. Chris Driedger is up with the Kraken as Daccord's backup, but hasn't played in an NHL regular season game since May 1, 2022. Daccord played like a goaltender possessed on Sunday night's loss, letting only a goal off the rush to Matt Boldy to pierce him before Marco Rossi buried a tap in late in the third period, followed by an empty netter. Simply put, Daccord made basic and high-danger saves with assertiveness and control, ensuring a security blanket until Grubauer can return. It's possible Driedger could get in game action during the call-up, but the Kraken have no more back-to-back games until a six-game trip in January, while Daccord has allowed two goals or less in five of his last six starts. He's appearing to be ready for the spotlight.

"We're 50 plus minutes into the game and he's done a nice job, keeping the game at one," said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. "You know, we've got to get one for him. We're talking very highly of his performance."

2. First period starts have been the ultimate thorn in the Kraken side. Eight games in a row, the Kraken haven't led after one period. Eight games in a row, the Kraken haven't scored the first goal of the game. You'll often hear players and even Hakstol divert attention from the importance of the first period and cast the spotlight on the tried and true phrase, "play a full 60 minutes." It's a necessary element for a team struggling for offense, where the margin for error with defensive mistakes is razor thin. But the Kraken have found themselves in a panicked, hurry up state at best, like in the second period against Tampa Bay, when they are consistently digging out of an early deficit. Then, against the Wild on Sunday, they were short-circuited for just one goal which could have turned the game around. The Kraken are searching for preventive measures, where shot generation brings them close,

Bjorkstrand offered a direct and simple solution.

"It's up to each of us to be ready," said Bjorkstrand.

3. The Kraken will have to find answers for their offense as the depth continues to face a test. Andre Burakovsky's wrist shot is out of commission. Jaden Schwartz's leadership and willingness to play in the trenches are on the shelf. Matty Beniers is still trying to break out of a difficult start to the season. Their shot percentage is now last in the NHL at 8.2 percent, a far cry from the marksman total of 11.6 last season, only trailing the high-octane Edmonton Oilers. Their offensive production is based on more than just blindly throwing pucks on net. If the first shot doesn't go, rebounds and "reloading" with open options are the key to generating second chances, chaos, and ultimately production. It will require commitment to the blueprint, and the game plan is clear with all who are healthy.

"Shot generation doesn't really doesn't tell the story," said Hakstol. "But for us what it does do is it points us in the right direction in terms of the number of retrievals so, shot totals don't mean everything. Shot attempts don't mean everything. But if you look at our past few nights, when when we're shooting, we're likely retrieving and finding second opportunities. That's when you're able to get inside because the structure is broken down a little bit."

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