That was a crazy last two games by the Kraken! Every time you think they’re dead, they somehow come back to life. Until they finally didn’t; until it all became too much.
Game 6 on Saturday was in the running for the Kraken’s best game of the entire playoffs. We were back home, on the brink of elimination, and finally managed to turn up the intensity after meekly losing the previous two games. We scored six goals from five different players, we knocked out their goalie in the second period, and we kept up the pressure for the full 60 minutes (scoring 2 goals in each period). Grubauer was good enough, resulting in a 6-3 victory.
That led to last night’s Game 7 – back in Dallas – where it was everything I’ve come to expect from a Game 7 in the NHL playoffs. Extremely intense. Low scoring. Hard hitting. Power plays few and far between. Unfortunately for the Kraken, we just didn’t have that magic to power through, losing 2-1.
One person stands out above everyone else in this game, and that’s Philipp Grubauer. He was a STUD. Dallas reclaimed their edge from the opening puck drop, and never relinquished it until it was far too late. They were in our zone and throwing up shot after shot after shot all game long. The stats will tell you they had 28 official shots on goal, but I’m here to tell you there was at least double that. There was a point in the second period where it was like Grubauer was a UFC figher on his back taking a repeated barrage of blows, yet he somehow held strong. It wasn’t until a puck annoyingly got by one of our guys, leading to a one-on-one situation that Grubauer STILL almost managed to block.
We went into the final period down 1-0, but we still couldn’t manage any sort of offensive consistency. Everything we dumped into their zone was immediately ejected. We allegedly took 23 shots on goal, but it felt like a quarter of that. Whatever we managed to direct towards the goal was right in the goalie’s breadbasket. Except for the two shots that clanged loudly off the bar.
The diameter of the metal tube frame of a hockey goal is roughly 2 inches. We had two phenomenal scoring opportunities that hit squarely on the wrong half of that frame. Between that and the Herculean effort by Grubauer, that’s how close the Kraken came to moving to the Western Conference Finals.
The Stars took advantage of another Kraken mistake midway through the third to take a 2-0 lead. It felt insurmountable – and indeed, it was – but it still led to some exciting hockey in the closing minutes.
Down two scores, we went without a goalie for the last three minutes and change. Most of that time was spent trying to corral the puck, while avoiding a couple of juicy empty-net opportunities by the Stars. Finally, with less than 20 seconds left in regulation, Oliver Bjorkstrand flipped one up and over the shoulder of the goalie to make it 2-1. Even when it was at its most hopeless, the Kraken still managed to stage a comeback. In spite of our inability to cleanly win any faceoffs, we still dumped into their zone, and fired off a near-miss with precious few seconds remaining. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but it sure was exciting.
Everything that everyone’s writing about is all the same. What a fun season. What an amazing turnaround from year 1 to year 2. The Kraken went further in the playoffs than anyone had any right to expect.
The Kraken are just getting started.
It’s cliche, but it’s also true. That was … wonderful! My instinct in these situations – when my team’s season has just ended – is to look ahead to next year, and pontificate on the possibilities of going even further. How do we get there? What moves do we need to make to take the next steps in our progression? How do we one day (soon) win the Stanley Cup?
Those are important and fun questions to ask – especially when you run your own blog – but sometimes you need to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes you need to appreciate something great that just happened. The Kraken treated us to a winning season of hockey, two rounds of playoffs, and two game seven performances for the ages. They exceeded expectations, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here. We’re already THIS close to contending for the Western Conference Finals, and most of our core guys are already signed on for next season.
What a great time to be a hockey fan in Seattle!
On a personal note, now that I’m settled into my home, and have my sports-viewing situation figured out, I look forward to being more engaged on a weekly basis next season. There won’t be months between Kraken posts (at least, when the games start up again; there WILL be months between Kraken posts in the offseason).
But, I’ll say this, as a fair-weather fan, I needed this. I needed the Kraken to go on an enjoyable playoff run. I needed them to win a series and look good against quality opponents. I’ve watched more hockey in the last month than I’ve watched in my entire life before this! It’s everything I could’ve asked for, and I’m excited for what’s to come in the future.
The 2023/2024 season is going to be off the chain!