Three things to watch in LA Kings vs Seattle Kraken on Saturday
The LA Kings begin a stretch of eight of their next ten games on the road, starting in Seattle on Saturday to face the Kraken.
The LA Kings are in Seattle on Saturday, facing the Kraken, who have lost their last five consecutive games.
Tale of the Tape
LAK: 16.8% (25th)
SEA: 18.9% (19th)
LAK: 75.5% (26th)
SEA: 77.7% (25th)
LAK: 53.6% (5th)
SEA: 48.7% (21st)
Goals per game:
LAK: 2.81 (21st)
SEA: 2.72 (24th)
Goals against per game:
LAK: 2.57 (7th)
SEA: 3.67 (31st)
LAK: Anze Kopitar – 11 goals, 22 assists, 33 points
SEA: Jordan Eberle – 12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points
Here are three things to keep an eye on tonight:
1. LA Kings first Krak at the newest expansion team
Following Seattle’s expansion draft over the summer, most projected the NHL’s newest expansion team to be one of the top teams in the Pacific Division. To this point, however, they have been far from it. Coming into Saturday’s game with a 10-22-4 record and a 1-7-2 record over their last 10 games.
“I think it’s certainly been more challenging than we were hoping for when the season started,” Kraken GM Ron Francis told ESPN earlier this month. “I thought we’d be a competitive team. You’re always hoping that things go right for you, that you have a chance to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for us, it’s gone the other way.”
Seattle has struggled to consistently put goals in the back of the net and keep them out, sporting the second-worst goals allowed average mark in the National Hockey League. Dave Hakstol’s club has been hit with the injury bug, with three major contributors in Morgan Geekie, Jaden Schwartz, and Brandon Tanev all recently sidelined.
Geekie is the closest of all three returning to the lineup, but Tanev will have to wait for the 2022-23 season after being lost for this year with a torn ACL.
In Saturday’s matchup, it will be vital for the Kings to jump on Seattle within the first ten minutes. Los Angeles has been playing great hockey lately, with nearly 60-minute efforts guiding them past the likes of the Flyers, Rangers, and Penguins on the last homestand.
Seattle has been outscored 27-41 in the opening period, including 12-21 at home.
2. Seattle’s goaltending woes
Aside from the anemic offense this season, the Kraken have been the victim of some poor goaltending. Shortly after their expansion draft in July, Seattle inked former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer to a six-year contract worth $35.4 million.
Philipp Grubauer is wearing his old #GoAvsGo pads in Colorado tonight. pic.twitter.com/ElKiwVnPtH
— Emerald City Hockey (@EmeraldCityHky) January 11, 2022
After a combined .918 SV% and 2.38 GAA in three years with Colorado, Grubauer owns a .880 SV% and 3.37 GAA in 27 games this season. He’s received the lion’s share of starts in net, but Chris Driedger hasn’t been much better. The former Florida Panther has a .896 SV% and 3.32 GAA in eight starts.
Regarding Grubauer, it’s been a fall from grace since his departure from the Avs. The 30-year-old has allowed a league-leading 83 goals and owns the worst goals-saved-above-average mark (-20.64). Further, he’s given up at least three goals in each of his last five starts, so the Kings will need to put some early pressure on Grubauer and see if one gets past him.
3. Dreadful special teams on both sides
Winners in seven of their last ten games, the LA Kings come into Saturday’s game fairly even with the Kraken in the special teams’ department. Both Seattle’s and LA’s powerplay and penalty kill have not been great this year, as both are ranked in the bottom half of the league.
Seattle’s powerplay has been better lately, converting on 5 of their last 20 opportunities (25%). Their penalty kill, however, has been downright awful, giving up at least one goal in 7 of their last 8 games.
Jared McCann leads all Seattle skaters with five powerplay goals and Jordan Eberle has three. Then there is a whole slew of players with one and two goals on the man advantage.
Pretty familiar-looking power-play goal by Jared McCann for the Kraken last night: pic.twitter.com/Nr8puD0AqW
— Seth Rorabaugh (@SethRorabaugh) September 27, 2021
The Kings have been slightly better on the man advantage lately, converting on 3 of their last 16 chances (18.8%), but their powerplay unit can really only go up at this point. Looking back at their last handful of road games, though, Drew Doughty‘s blast in Tampa is the only conversion in 13 chances.
The LA Kings and Seattle Kraken will get underway from Climate Pledge Arena at 7 pm PT.