Practice notebook: Kraken set to "clear out minds" on New Year's Eve

Edmonton Oilers v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 30: Jordan Eberle #7 of the Seattle Kraken warms up in an Adidas Reverse Retro jersey before the game against the Edmonton Oilers at Climate Pledge Arena on December 30, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Just over 13 hours removed from a blowout loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Seattle Kraken returned to Kraken Community Iceplex on Saturday for an hour practice that told the tale of flushing out defeat to the tune of mentality, not technicality. 

The purpose was simple. 

“Just go out and clear our minds, work hard,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the best approach coming off a night last night, where we got our noses rubbed in it pretty good.” 

The stench of a defeat that knocked them out of the playoff picture heading into New Year’s Day, where they will face the New York Islanders at 5pm PT at Climate Pledge Arena (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network), needed a wash in reality, where the Kraken want to forget about repeating habits that led to three goals on the first five shots, four goals allowed in the first nine minutes (a new record for most goals given up in franchise history, for the opening 20 minutes), and one goal shy of most allowed in a game this year. 

But they’re still into retaining a reminder of why it stings. 

“Everybody’s been through it before, but you have to take something and make it a valuable part of your season,” said Hakstol. “It’s painful as hell. So, if you can make it a value, and get better because of it, it becomes an important part of the season.” 

That includes another reminder of how the Kraken are offensively gifted – their offense is sixth in the league at 3.4 goals per game – but the slippery slope that exists in the NHL when trying to “get away with it,” per Hakstol, but attempting to outscore every team to a win, defense ignored. 

Remember how much defensive stress was required to win games by 9-8 (Los Angeles) and 8-5 (San Jose) scores in November? 

“There is no way to skill your way to two points,” said Hakstol. “Our group is a workman like group. We’re a lunch pail group. We’re a real good hockey team when we have our approach for 60 minutes.” 


Hakstol tinkered with his line combinations on Friday night and continued to experiment in Saturday’s practice, including the hint of possibly a debut for a newly acquired Kraken forward: 


Defensive pairs remained relatively constant, but absent of Vince Dunn which created shuffling with Cale Fleury in the mix.

Hakstol discouraged any kind of heavy reading between the lines with how Sunday’s lineup will compare to Saturday’s practice. But he acknowledged the desire to view new looks at the forward group. That includes Eeli Tolvanen, who hasn’t played since being claimed off waivers from Nashville on Dec. 12. 

“He thinks the game well,” Hakstol said. “His puck skills are good; his playmaking ability is good. I know his shot is at an elite level.  That’s a hard thing to judge in practice. I don’t’ need to judge in practice. It’s an opportunity to get in a short, and full workday.” 

Tolvanen was also showcased on a Kraken power play unit, ideal for his quick and heavy release as he posted up at the right circle, opposite of Jared McCann and nearby Oliver Bjorkstrand in the bumper spot. 

Dunn was the only skater absent from Saturday’s practice, taking what Hakstol said was a maintenance day. 


Well, considering how busy the schedule is looking over the next month, both need to be prepared to play. The Kraken are playing in a span of 17 games in 31 days, in a league where deploying a two-headed approach in netminding workload is en vogue. 

“Both these guys are going to be busy,” said Hakstol. 

So, where the Kraken stay, or shift, short term with the starting duties to Philipp Grubauer or Martin Jones remains unclear. Attention to the goaltending side in defeat, such as Friday night, is a tempting exercise when a ton of goals are involved. Grubauer, whose game was headed north for much of the month with a save percentage of .931 in even strength situations, suffered through what Hakstol said was a “hectic” game to play in – carrying over to when Jones took over after Edmonton went up 3-0, two goals scored on an unmarked Zach Hyman and Klim Kostin at the net. 

Darnell Nurse scored on a wide open look, on a three-on-two rush to end Grubauer’s night, and Jones promptly was victimized by a wide open look to Jesse Puljujarvi for a 4-0 deficit before half the period expired. 

“He has no chance on the first two (goals),” said Hakstol. “The third one is a shot we need save on to stay in that hockey game. I can’t imagine a tougher way for a goaltender to start a game. Jonesy comes in and sees a shot with nobody around him.” 

“We have guys we have confidence in.” 

For the record, Grubauer is 2-3 with a .923 save percentage in six career games against the Islanders. Jones is 3-4 lifetime in eight games, with a .910 save percentage. 

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