The Kraken Lost Their Inaugural Game To The Golden Knights

What a fun hockey game! I know it was a 4-3 Kraken defeat to the Golden Knights in Las Vegas, but for a first-ever regular season NHL game for a Seattle-based team in my lifetime, I was thoroughly pleased and entertained. I’m not yet at that point where I’m a maniacal fan living and dying with every slap of the puck; I’m just a beginning observer looking for a good time.

It’s a bummer that we got stuck in such a deep hole, because it was brilliant how we managed to come all the way back down 3-0. Unfortunately, the first period really decided this one, even though the game was eventually tied 3-3 in the third period. The Kraken started off fast and aggressive on the offensive end, with lots of crisp passing and an abundance of shots on goal. There was even, at one point, a short-handed break-away that Brandon Tanev mishandled (that really SHOULD have been our first-ever Kraken goal). We managed to shut down that power play (and, indeed, all of their three power plays on the night), but the Golden Knights scored shortly thereafter.

The defense in the first period was pretty sloppy, as Vegas had numerous fast-break (for lack of a better phrase) opportunities, charging hard at the goal. They didn’t have a ton of shots on goal early, but managed to hit on 2 of their first 3 to take a 2-0 first period lead. They would briefly hold a 3-0 lead in the second – after a massive flurry of shots in the early going of the period – before we got a couple goals back within 72 seconds of each other. The crowd was mostly silenced in that second period – and in the beginning of the third, as we went and tied the game – but Vegas got just the most annoying fourth goal to take the lead for good.

There was controversy that the Golden Knights skater kicked the puck into the net – which is not allowed – and it had to be reviewed. The key is: there has to be a legitimate kicking motion. In this case, the puck bounced off of the outside of his skate – which he angled towards the net to get it to go in – yet while the motion wasn’t pronounced, he still ever-so-subtly nudged it in that direction. It wasn’t some oafish Charlie Brown kick, but it was a kick. When you’re skating that fast, you don’t need a big wind-up to kick a puck into the net.

I dunno, all the announcers and the rules expert were pretty damn sure that wasn’t a kick, so I’ll defer to them. But, whenever you create a rule that has to be left to the judgment of a referee, there’s a level of interpretation involved that’s rarely satisfactory to all parties.

Anyway, try as they might, the Kraken could never get that all-important fourth goal. I kinda thought – if the Kraken were going to win this one – they’d have to rely on their defense to keep scoring to a minimum. With Philipp Grubauer being their high-priced free agent goalie, I expect him to hold teams to under 4 goals. But, Vegas is widely considered the favorite to win the Stanley Cup this year, and their offense is no joke. I would expect better games from the Kraken’s defense against inferior opponents, and as they figure out their personnel and how they want to organize their lines.

Ryan Donato scored the first-ever regular season goal in Kraken history, so tuck that away in the ol’ memory bank. Jared McCann was credited with the second goal after some review by the official scorer. And Morgan Geekie had the nifty little one-on-one goal to tie it up late. Overall, I thought it was an impressive offensive showing for a team many considered to be deficient in that area. The Kraken left more goals on the ice, as things got sloppier as the game progressed. Against a worse opponent, we might’ve scored five or six.

I think the defense is an easy fix. My guess is, the guys were really jacked up to start this game, knowing what it represented. As they settled in, they were able to overcome their earlier miscues (though, I still don’t know what the goalie was looking at on that final goal for Vegas; but it wasn’t anywhere near the direction of the puck). As far as first games go, it was an impressive loss.

Next up is a trip to Nashville to play the Predators tomorrow. I can’t wait to park my ass in front of the television (assuming it’s ON television; I’ll need to consult my directory).